Across the Channel, pharmacists are alarmed by the difficulties in obtaining supplies of amoxicillin, the main drug to fight against streptococcal A infections. The government ensures that there is no shortage.
Concern continues to mount in England over Strep A infections, as since the start of the week the number of young victims has nearly doubled.
According to the latest figures from the British health agency (UKHSA), 15 children under the age of 15 have now died as a result of this bacterium, which causes infections such as angina or scarlet fever.
659 cases in England
This year, the cases of sick children are increasing sharply, by 30% across the Channel. 659 cases have been recorded since the start of the epidemic season in England, the highest level ever reached at this time of year in five years.
In France, although the situation is less worrying, the General Directorate of Health alerted on Tuesday to a “larger than usual number” of streptococcus A infections, with the hospitalization in the intensive care unit of eight children, including two died. In the Landes, a little girl died at the end of November following the worsening of angina caused by streptococci A.
Overburdened emergency services
The situation is all the more difficult in the United Kingdom, and in particular in the south-east of England, as the emergency services are overwhelmed by the arrival of very young patients. Emergency doctors say they have seen the number of children to be cared for double in recent weeks.
In addition to streptococcus A infections, caregivers have to deal with an increase in cases of influenza and bronchiolitis, as in France. So much so that the waiting time for a third of patients is now more than four hours. On the side of the emergency number of the NHS, the British universal health system, the calls exploded, saturating the lines.
Adrian Boyle, president of Britain’s Royal College of Emergency Medicine, confirmed in The Independent a “serious pressure in our pediatric services”.
“We expect to see double the number of patients in the pediatric emergency department. One of the main problems and that strep A infections require face-to-face consultation,” he said.
always in The Independent, a mother, who had to take her daughter to an English emergency department, said she was deeply shocked to see children sitting on the floor in the hospital corridors. Some feedback reports parents having waited 15 hours before being taken care of.
A tense situation, which makes it even more difficult for doctors to control the spread of streptococcus A infections. The bacterium spreads when strict hygiene is not respected by sick people, namely children.
The amoxicillin problem
In addition to these difficulties at the hospital, there are problems with the supply of amoxicillin, the main antibiotic used to treat streptococcal A infections.
Pharmacist associations point the finger at the government of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, which did not sufficiently anticipate the situation, while an increase in demand was visible from November.
“All the antibiotics related to amoxicillin are missing. The problems started to emerge in early November, but this was ignored because the feedback is poor. And also because it would have required wholesalers to be transparent with the government. But now, we are reaching a crisis stage. Patients are arriving, and they may have gone to four or five pharmacies before”, detailed to The Independent Raza Ali, a neighborhood pharmacist.
According to Guardianseveral pharmacists indicated that they were unable to order antibiotics through their traditional suppliers, systematically receiving an error message when ordering.
No shortages according to the government
The British government confines itself to declaring that there is no shortage, but simply an increase in demand. “There is no shortage of antibiotics used to treat Strep A infections. As the Secretary of State reminded us, we sometimes have a spike in demand for certain products, which is why some are struggling to get supplies,” the UK Department of Health said on Tuesday.
These difficulties in the supply of amoxicillin are not only visible in England. France is experiencing a similar situation. Asked about this point this Friday morning on BFMTV-RMC, the Minister of Health François Braun did not deny the supply difficulties, in connection with problems observed in the production of the active ingredient. However, he assured that alternatives exist.
But in England, the accumulation of these various problems is worrying, while the number of deaths linked to streptococcus A has reached unprecedented levels. The Welsh authorities have assured that the cases remain rare on their territory, all like the Scots, where only 13 cases of children affected by streptococcus A have been identified.
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