The latest victim of the Strep A outbreak was misdiagnosed as having flu, his family claims after they sought doctors’ advice three times before he lost his life.
Jax Albert Jefferys, a five-year-old who attended Morelands Primary School in Waterlooville, Hampshire, died on Thursday, December 1.
His mother Charlene said she had repeatedly sough medical advice during the four days leading up to his death and had been told he was suffering from influenza A.
But later tests revealed he actually had Step A, she said, which is currently spreading like wildfire in Britain.
Jax Albert Jefferys, a five-year-old from Waterlooville, Hampshire, died on Thursday, December 1, from Strep A
His mother Charlene said she had repeatedly sough medical advice during the four days leading up to his death and had been told he was suffering from influenza A. Pictured: Morelands Primary School, where Jax was a pupil
The map shows the rate of iGAS per 100,000 people in England between September 12 and December 4. Rates were highest in Yorkshire (1.8) and the South East (1.4)
The UKHSA has logged 6,601 cases of scarlet fever — which is caused by Strep A — between September 12 and December 4 (green line). For comparison, just 2,538 cases had been reported by this point in 2017/18 (thin blue line), which was considered a ‘bad’ season
Between September 12 and December 4, the UKHSA was notified of 659 iGAS cases (grey line). Rates are currently higher than the previous five winters
What are the symptoms of Strep A? How does it spread? And is it the same as scarlet fever? Everything you need to know about the killer bug sweeping Britain
What is Strep A?
Group A Streptococcus (Group A Strep or Strep A) bacteria can cause many different infections.
The bacteria are commonly found in the throat and on the skin, and some people have no symptoms.
Infections caused by Strep A range from minor illnesses to serious and deadly diseases.
They include the skin infection impetigo, scarlet fever and strep throat.
While the vast majority of infections are relatively mild, sometimes the bacteria cause an illness called invasive Group A Streptococcal disease.
What is invasive Group A Streptococcal disease?
Invasive Group A Strep disease is sometimes a life-threatening infection in which the bacteria have invaded parts of the body, such as the blood, deep muscle or lungs.
Two of the most severe, but rare, forms of invasive disease are necrotising fasciitis and streptococcal toxic shock syndrome.
Necrotising fasciitis is also known as the ‘flesh-eating disease’ and can occur if a wound gets infected.
Streptococcal toxic shock syndrome is a rapidly progressing infection causing low blood pressure/shock and damage to organs such as the kidneys, liver and lungs.
This type of toxic shock has a high death rate.
READ MAILONLINE’S FULL Q&A ON STREP A.
The bacterial infection, which is usually mild, has so far killed at least 16 children in the UK. The toll is higher than expected for this time of year, experts say.
A spike in cases ‘several fold-higher than pre-pandemic levels’ have been logged in France and the UK.
Strep A bacteria can cause a myriad of other infections, including impetigo, scarlet fever and strep throat.
While the vast majority of infections are relatively mild, sometimes the bacteria can, in exceptionally rare cases, cause invasive Group A Streptococcal (iGAS).
Two of the most severe, but rare, forms of this invasive disease are necrotising fasciitis and streptococcal toxic shock syndrome.
Government figures show iGAS cases are currently four times higher than normal among children aged between one and four in Britain.
The life-threatening complication was suffered by Jax before his death, Charlene said.
His parents said they ‘followed the recommended course of action’ and gave him medication, but then his condition worsened.
Charlene said: ‘On the fourth day Jax’s condition deteriorated so much that we rushed him to hospital and by 10 o’clock on the Thursday evening of the 1st December he had passed away.
‘Only after his death was it confirmed that the cause was the Strep A.
‘We would dearly like to express our deepest thanks to all the hospital staff who did their utmost to save Jax.’
She said she hoped her ‘darling son’ would be remembered as a ‘little cheeky chappy’.
Charlene said: ‘He was just always mischievous. He had lots of friends — lots. And he was a mummy’s boy — he was spoiled. That’s who he was.’
She thanked the military for their support during the family’s grief, with Jax’s father Danny being granted leave from his role in the Army.
Charlene said: ‘They have been absolutely fabulous since the word go. He will be off until he’s ready to go back, more or less. And we have such supportive friends.
‘We have such a close street and friends. We sincerely ask that people respect our privacy at this time as we try to come to terms with our loss.’
She said Jax’s three sisters — aged from eight to 12 — have shown remarkable resilience in the face of the family tragedy.
The family have asked for no flowers or cards to be left or sent at this time.
The UK has logged 169 iGAS infections among children aged 14 and under since September.
Data from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) suggests this is up to five times higher than this point in the last bad year.
The UK, Ireland, France and Spain have all reported deaths among children.
There is usually a surge in iGAS cases every three to four years but social distancing during the Covid pandemic is thought to have interrupted this cycle.
This has left some youngsters with reduced immunity to Strep A — with a high number of children never having encountered the bacteria in their lifetime — some have suggested.
High rates of other respiratory viruses — including flu, RSV and norovirus — may also be putting children at higher risk of co-infections with Strep A, leaving them more susceptible to severe illness, the World Health Organization (WHO) said.
It confirmed the surge is not linked to a new strain or an increase in antibiotic resistance.
As Britain’s Strep A outbreak continues to grow…
An expert has blamed the GP appointment crisis for fuelling the UK’s unusually bad Strep A outbreak
A five-year-old disabled girl, with tell-tale Strep A symptoms, was left without antibiotics for 24 hours after pharmacies were left ‘out of stock’ amid outbreak
A 12-year-old girl in Hove, Sussex, has become the UK’s 16th Strep A death this winter
From the ‘bubbly’ seven-year-old whose father desperately tried CPR to save, to the four-year-old who loved exploring: The victims of Strep A so far
Muhammad Ibrahim Ali
The four-year-old boy attended Oakridge School and Nursery in High Wycombe, Bucks.
He died at home from a cardiac arrest in mid-November after contracting a Strep A infection.
He was prescribed antibiotics.
His mother Shabana Kousar told the Bucks Free Press: ‘The loss is great and nothing will replace that.
‘He was very helpful around the house and quite adventurous, he loved exploring and enjoyed the forest school, his best day was a Monday and said how Monday was the best day of the week.
Muhammad Ibrahim Ali, who attended Oakridge School and Nursery in High Wycombe, Bucks, died after contracting the bacterial infection
The ‘bubbly’ and ‘beautiful’ seven-year-old is the only child to have died from Strep A in Wales so far.
Her devastated parents told how their ‘hearts had broken into a million pieces’.
The first signs of the infection were mild, Hanna’s father Abul took his daughter to the GP after cough got worse overnight.
She was prescribed steroids and sent home, but she died less than 12 hours later.
Mr Roap recalled how he desperately tried to resuscitate his child: ‘She stopped breathing at 8pm but we were not immediately aware because she was sleeping.
‘I did CPR, I tried to revive her but it didn’t work. Paramedics arrived and continued the CPR but it was too late.’
Mr Roap said the family was ‘utterly devastated’ and awaiting answers from the hospital.
The family believe she might have lived if she was initially given antibiotics.
Hanna Roap, who attended Victoria Primary School in Penarth, Wales, died after contracting Strep A last month. Her family say they have been ‘traumatised’ by her death
Five-year-old Stella-Lily McCokindale is the ninth British child to have died following a Strep A infection, and the first in Northern Ireland.
She died on December 5 at Royal Belfast Hospital.
In a tribute on social media, her father Robert said the pair had ‘loved every minute’ of being together as they went on scooter and bike rides.
‘If prays, thoughts, feelings and love could of worked she would of walked out of that hospital holding her daddy’s hand,’ he said.
Stella attended Black Mountain Primary School, who said she was ‘a bright and talented little girl’ and described her death as a ‘tragic loss’.
Five-year-old Stella-Lily McCokindale who attended Black Mountain Primary School in Belfast died in early December after contracting Strep A
Five of the 13 other deaths include:
- An unidentified six-year-old pupil who attended Ashford Church of England Primary School in England in Surrey.
- A primary school pupil who attended St John’s School in Ealing, west London.
- A 12-year-old boy attending Colfe’s School in Lewisham, south east London.
- An unidentified child at Morelands Primary School in Waterlooville
- A 12-year-old girl from Sussex who attended Hove Park School