I fainted at the sight of my daughter in a coma with strep A – I feared she’d die every day

STREP A cases are on the rise in the UK and while it’s mild in most cases, parents should be wary that it can become life-threatening.

And one mum knows the reality of this nightmare well, having feared her daughter would die of the virus earlier this year.

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Inaaya Noor Hussain, seven, fought a serious case of strep A this yearCredit: Supplied
She was put into an induced coma, which made her mum, Kiran, faint

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She was put into an induced coma, which made her mum, Kiran, faintCredit: Supplied
Inaaya spent three months in hospital and had to learn to walk again

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Inaaya spent three months in hospital and had to learn to walk againCredit: Supplied

Back in March, Inaaya Noor Hussain, seven, was put in a coma and spent three months in hospital.

Her mum, Kiran, 33, says Inaaya had barely shown any symptoms and had gone downhill rapidly.

Strep A is caused by Group A Streptococcus bacteria, and the symptoms can vary from a minor sore throat to vomiting and headache.

It can cause scarlet fever – a disease characterised by a bright red, itchy rash, which is rough like sandpaper, and ‘strawberry tongue’.

Cases of scarlet fever have surged by almost 70 per cent in weeks, new figures have revealed.

Nearly 450 people could have been infected with the bug in the week ending November 19, according to the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), compared with 267 in the week ending October 15.

In rare cases, strep A bacteria can reach the bloodstream and cause a fatal invasive disease called iGAS.

The infection was responsible for the deaths of dozens of children in the UK last winter.

The severe outbreak resulted  in the deaths of 516 people, including 61 children. 

The previous highest recorded deaths totalled 355 in the winter of 2017. 

Dr Gareth Nye, programme lead for Medical Science at the University of Chester, said that the condition would normally be responsible for around 15 deaths in those under the age of 16. 

He told The Sun: “This bacteria is very easily picked up but only rarely causes serious illness.”

‘Something told me it was serious’

When Inaaya began complaining of backache, Kiran initially thought it was time for a new mattress.

But after showing a very mild temperature of around 38 degrees, she took her to the doctor who diagnosed a viral infection. 

“By early the next morning her breathing had got really bad,” Kiran, from Reading, said.

“It was like she was gasping for every breath. 

“I rang 111 three times and an ambulance came. 

“They thought it was just a severe lung infection but in the bottom of my heart, something was telling me it was worse. I did know about strep A. 

“Her oxygen levels were dropping and they went down to 60.

“The doctor said we need to put her in an induced coma now. When I walked in and saw her I fainted.” 

After initial treatment at the Royal Berkshire Hospital, Inaaya was transferred to Great Ormond Street where doctors fought to save her life over several days. 

Due to the severe strain the infection was putting on her body, the struggling schoolgirl was put onto an ECMO machine to save her life.  

“The doctors said we need to do this or I don’t think she’s going to make it,” Kiran recalled. 

“If it wasn’t for them, I know we wouldn’t have my little girl today. 

“She really scared us. To start out she barely had any symptoms. Until this day she was just happy and jolly. There was barely a temperature, she just went downhill so fast.”

Inaaya spent three months in hospital and was forced to learn to walk properly again after spending much of the time bedridden. 

She has also suffered scarring on her lungs, 

Kiran said: “I just can’t believe she is still here with us. It really is a miracle. 

“I would hate even my own worst enemy to go through what we have been through – thinking she was going to die any minute.”

Doctor’s orders

Dr Nye has urged people to ‘use common sense’ to protect against the illness by hand washing, avoiding close contact with symptomatic people and quarantining if unwell.  

He said: “Most people will have had strep A infections and have the classic symptoms of a sore throat and flu like illness with fever, you may have muscle weakness or feel nausea.

“If this progresses to scarlet fever you will develop a rash that’s red and feels like sandpaper on the skin.

“Invasive GAS disease occurs when the strep A bacteria gets into parts of the body where it is not usually found. 

“One of the most severe consequences is Streptococcal Toxic Shock Syndrome which involves a high fever, low blood pressure, confusion, body rash as in scarlet fever, diarrhoea and vomiting and difficulty breathing.

“If you have symptoms, ringing 111 or visiting a pharmacy may be useful in getting help.”

Dr Nye said the winter 2022 outbreak “was unique and hit at a particularly difficult time post-Covid”.

Off the back of it, the number of campaigns on GoFundMe for strep A has increased from just eight in the UK last year, to 39 in 2023.

“One leading theory is that a lack of interaction during lockdown periods has caused a lack of immune development in children,” he said.

“It is normal for children to pick up infections and is a benefit to help their bodies develop methods of combating diseases in the future. 

Read more on the Scottish Sun

“Without this, the strep A bacteria had greater opportunity to cause more severe infections.”

Dr Nye explained that antibiotic overuse could also be leading to more ‘drug-resistant bacteria’, which are harder to remove from the body.

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