The island’s director of public health has moved to reassure parents concerned over the dangers posed by strep A.

Professor Hugo van Woerden’s statement follows the death of several children in the UK from illnesses linked to the bacterial infection.

Strep A is the bacteria that causes scarlet fever and in most people is relatively harmless, but it can cause illness.

NHS Scotland said these are known as invasive group A streptococcus (iGAS) infections and are most common in the elderly, the very young, or people with an underlying risk factor such as injecting drug use, alcoholism, immunosuppression or cancer.

Prof van Woerden said: ‘We have seen a low number of sporadic cases on the island this year, which is not unusual. 

‘Although scarlet fever is common and spreads easily among children, it is important to note that it is usually mild, can be treated easily with antibiotics and very rarely results in serious illness. 

‘The most common symptoms of scarlet fever are sore throat, headache, fever, nausea and vomiting. If you think you or your child has scarlet fever, contact your GP and stay at home. 

‘You can help stop the spread of infection through frequent handwashing and by not sharing utensils, clothing, bedding and towels.’

Anyone with the following symptoms should seek medical help immediately through your GP, Manx Emergency Doctor Service (MEDS) or Noble’s Hospital’s emergency department.

- high fever

- severe muscle aches

- pain in one area of the body

- unexplained vomiting or diarrhoea