'There needs to be more available': As Strep A cases rise, mum reveals struggle to get antibiotics

Arabnews24.ca:Wednesday 7 December 2022 10:41 PM: For Kim Gardener, it's not been easy getting hold of a bottle of much-needed penicillin for her sick daughter.

Lexi has been hit with scarlet fever - she woke up on Wednesday morning with a temperature, a white tongue with red spots, and flu-like symptoms.

After jumping the first hurdle of getting a doctor's appointment, Lexi was prescribed a course of penicillin - but the problems had only just begun.

Read more: How dangerous is Strep A - and what should you do if you have symptoms?

The GP's pharmacy had no more antibiotics available, so Ms Gardener visited another pharmacy and they too had no stock of the penicillin her daughter desperately needed.

She told Sky News chasing the medicine was frustrating and a major concern.

"The prescription originally wasn't sent down to our normal pharmacy because it was out of stock. I got told by the GP and the pharmacy we might struggle, so I phoned around pharmacies in the area and luckily the third one I called had it."

More on Strep A

"All of the pharmacists I spoke to said there was a shortage in Crewe - it's just frustrating, with this going on there needs to be more available."

With cases rising in the North West of England, it's an issue that is likely to continue.

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In fact, Lexi's school declared an outbreak of scarlet fever, the contagious infection caused by the bacteria that can lead to Invasive Group A Strep. One child at Leighton Academy Primary School has been diagnosed with it and attendance at the school has dropped to record lows.

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Parents at the school gates were keen to share their concerns - with one mum, Sarah Bibbey, telling Sky News: "It's really daunting knowing there's a case at the school, it's scary and we don't want our children to get poorly."

Another parent whose child was in year one said: "Getting the letter from school saying there was a case of Strep A made me feel quite worried. You have to think whether you bring your child in or not. I'd say shut the school and keep it shut until Christmas is over."

Parents were also frustrated by the ongoing row between government and pharmacists across the country, with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak claiming there isn't a shortage of antibiotics but pharmacies saying their stock is minimal.

One father told us: "Hearing pharmacists saying their short is very concerning. I hope government and the companies sort that out soon because who knows, we may need them soon."

Read more: How many severe Strep A infections and scarlet fever cases are in your area

Strep A causes scarlet fever (pictured), which can be treated with antibiotics, but sometimes the bacteria can be life threatening
Image: Strep A causes scarlet fever (pictured), which can be treated with antibiotics, but sometimes the bacteria can be life threatening

Leighton Academy is part of a trust of four other schools. Director of primaries Joanna Young said they're facing outbreaks in three of them, but they're waiting for public health advice and guidance.

"It's very worrying and that's why as a trust we've put some of our own precautions in place like we did during COVID-19. Like extra cleaning, sanitising and bringing back anti-bacterial handwash. The guidance has been a sticking point, it would be helpful if it was a bit more proactive because we're making decisions without full information."

She added: "Parents are scared, it's the fear of the unknown, seeing it on the news and hearing about the awful deaths that have occurred. They're worried and they want more information themselves."

Scarlet fever isn't uncommon at this time of the year, but the level at which children are being infected is.

For those eventually needing antibiotics, there is unease.

And for schools - the very frontline of this bacterial infection - guidance and support are much needed.

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