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The National (Scotland)
The National (Scotland)
Andrew Smart

Major supply notice issued over Strep A antibiotics in Scotland

A notice warning has been issued by the Scottish Government over the supply of antibiotics used to treat Group A Strep infections.

The Government said that antibiotics may be “temporarily in limited supply” as the recent increase in cases sees a massive surge in demand.

According to Public Health Scotland, there had been 967 laboratory reports of the infection in the week ending December 11.

The supply alert notice states that supplies of antibiotics for this condition may be limited for a time in certain wholesalers and pharmacies.

However, assurances were made that supplies are with the manufacturers and that deliveries to local stores and pharmacies are “being expedited and are expected in the coming days."

Guidance has also been issued to pharmacists on which antibiotics can be used in place of first-line treatments.

Public Health Scotland added that there had been six new cases of the more serious Invasive Group A Streptococcal infections between December 5 and 11 across all age groups with no new reports in children under the age of 10.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, replying to a question from  Scottish Conservative MSP Rachael Hamilton, said "nobody is burying their heads in the sand” on the antibiotic supply issue.

She added that powers over the supply of medicine is reserved to Westminster.

She said: “We are of course aware of some localised supply problems with penicillin and amoxicillin liquid preparations due to the increase in demand across the whole of the UK.

“These types of demand shortages are not uncommon, the NHS has robust systems in place to deal with them.

“The assessment right now is that there is sufficient supply within the UK to meet these needs.”

What is Strep A?

Strep A bacteria is commonly found in the throat and on the skin with some people having no symptoms at all.

While most infections are relatively mild, sometimes the bacteria causes Invasive Group A Streptococcal infections which are life-threatening.

This occurs when the bacteria has invaded parts of the body like blood, deep muscle, or lungs.

Dr Nick Phin, director of public health science at Public Health Scotland, said: “Public Health Scotland continues to monitor infections caused by Group A Strep (GAS), which have been increasing since the beginning of October.

“Whilst GAS infections, including scarlet fever and tonsillitis, are common; the more serious Invasive GAS infections are very rare.

“The bacteria causing GAS infections is usually found in the throat and on the skin. We would, therefore, encourage adults to ensure children wash their hands frequently with soap and water and to cover their mouth and nose with a tissue when they cough or sneeze, and then put the used tissue in the bin.

“These simple actions can help to reduce the spread of common infections like Group A Strep.”

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