A NORTH Belfast mother is urging other parents to be vigilant in spotting the signs of the bacterial infection Strep A.

It comes after a five-year-old girl has died at the Royal Victoria Hospital after being treated in the intensive care unit with a reported Strep A infection.

Joey Sloan (4) took ill last Wednesday and was admitted to Antrim Area Hospital at the weekend.

Speaking to the North Belfast News, mum Kitty from Ardoyne said: "He went to school last Wednesday and he was his usual happy self.


"He came up and said he was really tired at about 4.30pm. He was then sick at about 5pm.

"He then developed a really high temperature. Every time I was giving him the Calpol, it was bringing it down for about an hour and then it was spiking up again.

"He was getting really agitated and complaining about his eyes too. He wasn’t himself at all."

It was then that Kitty decided that Joey needed medical help.

"On Saturday morning, I decided to bring him up to the hospital. He wasn’t eating and it was the fourth day of him being sick.

"They took a urine sample and the doctor thought Joey was getting over the worst of it and was happy to send him home.

"In the early hours of Sunday morning, we woke up and he was sweating from head to toe.

"In the morning I noticed he had a bit of a rash on his neck. I thought at first it was just prickly heat because he was so warm.

"The rash got worse in the afternoon and spread to his knuckles, fingers and feet. I took him straight back up to the hospital. His lips were red raw and he was struggling to open his eyes.

SIGNS: The rash which spread to his feet and fingers.

SIGNS: The rash which spread to his feet and fingers.

"They then did a swab test and it was confirmed he had a Strep A infection and he was kept in Antrim Area Hospital.

"He is starting to feel a bit better today. He was sitting up and drinking some juice and eating a bit."

Most Strep A infections are mild, including a sore throat or a skin infection that can be easily treated with antibiotics. Others can develop scarlet fever, which causes a skin rash that can feel like sandpaper and flu-like symptoms, including a high temperature.

Figures show there were at least 104 cases of scarlet fever in the North in November, up from 43 in October.

Kitty has a message for other parents to be vigilant in looking out for signs of the infection.

"I would say to other parents, if you notice a rash, get straight to the hospital and get your child seen, no matter how long the wait," she urged.

"Use your mother’s gut instinct and if your child is sick, please don’t hesitate.

"It might also look like a really bad cold or flu.

"I am overwhelmed by everyone's prayers and messages and I am just so happy to see his wee eyes open today."