A primary school in Belfast has announced the death of one of its pupils, after contracting strep A.
In a letter sent out to parents on Friday, Black Mountain Primary School informed P1 and P3 families that one of their pupils, a five-year-old girl, had passed away.
The letter to parents was assisted by the Public Health Agency, and the school spoke of its “tragic loss”.
“The thoughts of the entire school are with the pupil’s family and friends at this difficult time,” the school added.
Black Mountain Primary School is also being assisted by the Education Authority to provide help and support to its young pupils with their unexpected loss. “We recognise that this news may cause worry amongst our school community and we want to reassure parents that we continue to work closely with the Public Health Agency at this time,” they wrote.
This heartbreaking loss comes after a school in County Down announced yesterday that many of its pupils had been struck down by the illness. Brackenagh West Primary School near Kilkeel has shared that dozens of its pupils are currently ill with strep A infections, with two children needing to be taken to hospital.
Since the beginning of September, seven children in England and one child in Wales have died as a result of complications from strep A infections.
Typically, strep A is mild and can be treated with antibiotics, but in recent weeks, the UK has seen a rise in the number of both strep A and scarlet fever cases amongst children. Northern Ireland has reported at least 104 cases of scarlet fever alone in the last month.
The main symptoms of strep A include a sore throat, swollen glands and a high temperature. Meanwhile, a child with scarlet fever typically develops a skin rash that feels like sandpaper, as well as flu-like symptoms, including a high temperature.
Both illnesses are highly contagious, and so parents are being advised to keep their children at home if they become ill. If the child’s condition begins to deteriorate quickly, parents should seek medical advice immediately.