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Daily Mirror
Daily Mirror
Alice Peacock

Strep A home testing kits sell out as spate of deaths leads to parents panic buying

Home-testing kits for Strep A have sold out online as parents scramble to diagnose their children’s high temperature and rashes amid a spate of deaths.

The shortage comes after at least 16 children have died from invasive strep A infections in the UK.

The condition can normally be treated with antibiotics but symptoms, such as a fever and sore throat, can be mistaken for other viruses.

Group A strep bacteria can cause many different infections,including skin infection impetigo, scarlet fever and strep throat.

With the rise of infections and deaths from strep A rising over the past weeks, parents have turned to tests that involve a long cotton swab that is lightly passed over the back of a throat.

Solutions and a strip test are then used to show results.

Pharmacists have reported turning desperate patients away due to a lack of antibiotics used to treat Strep A (Getty Images)

These tests are now being sold online for more than £100, the Guardian reports.

Some retailers have reported selling out, after demand soared over the past few days.

Several suppliers has warned customers that they would not be able to get hold of a test until after Christmas and one online retailer told customers that they would not be able to get them until midway through January.

The lateral flow tests that can detect Strep A in just five minutes are available on the NHS in Wales but not England because the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) has said their accuracy is uncertain and likely to be “highly variable”.

Professor Kamila Hawthorne, chair of the Royal College of GPs, said they were not advising using the tests “for the time being”.

“It is a clinical diagnosis. It is not too difficult to make. So long as the parent watches their child and brings their child in, then we are more than happy to see them,” she said.

Since September, the UKHSA said there have been 652 reports of invasive Strep disease, higher than at the same points over the last five years.

Pharmacists have also reported turning desperate patients away due to a lack of antibiotics used to treat Strep A.

The news comes just days after we reported of how NHS bosses had ordered that extra supplies of antibiotics are delivered to pharmacies across the country in the fight against the infection.

Parents have reported shortages in some places of antibiotics, including the liquid version of penicillin, which is often given to children.

Sir Stephen Powis, medical director of NHS England, said that wholesalers had been tasked with producing antibiotics to handle demand following the rise in cases.

Meanwhile, Amo Sohal, who owns Kitsons Pharmacy in Worcester, said the spike in Strep A cases has led to soaring demand for penicillin and amoxicillin.

Despite ministers claiming there are enough drugs around, he said: "I have never seen this sort of shortage before."

Mr Sohal said: “The situation has changed a lot in the last 48 hours. People are coming to us with prescriptions that we just can’t get hold of from our suppliers.

“It’s so difficult when you can’t get prescriptions for people who need them. It is a very worrying picture, and we need support.”

In England, testing for the infection currently involves a swab being taken by doctors, before it is sent off to a lab to be checked. This information was then used to confirm an infection then for contact tracing.

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