A third child aged under 10 in Scotland has died with Strep A infection, according to new data from Public Health Scotland (PHS).

PHS said it is aware of 17 deaths amongst invasive group A streptococcal infections (iGAS) cases between October 3 and January 15, an increase of four since the previous report.

Three of these deaths were in children under 10, an increase of one since last week’s report.

PHS said this compares to between zero and 15 deaths reported during the same time period of previous years.

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Infections caused by Group A Streptococcus (GAS) include the skin infection impetigo, scarlet fever and strep throat.

The vast majority of infections are relatively mild, but the bacteria can cause iGAS, a life-threatening infection in which the bacteria has invaded parts of the body such as the blood, deep muscle or lungs.

At least 30 children under 18 have now died with iGas across the UK so far this season, which runs from September 19.

PHS said there is currently an earlier increase in GAS and iGAS cases this season than in previous seasons in Scotland.

Total cases reported to date are higher than those observed at the peaks seen in previous pre-Covid-19 pandemic years.

In the most recent week ending January 15, there have been 532 laboratory reports of GAS, a reduction from 600 the previous week.

The agency said that although increases in GAS were reported in recent weeks in Scotland, iGAS infection levels for 2022/23 have been “generally stable and similar to previous years”.

In the week to January 15, there were 22 iGAS cases reported across all age groups, the same as the previous week.

It said this remains higher than what was reported during peaks observed in previous years, when between 12 and 18 cases per week were recorded.