SDLP Health Spokesperson Colin McGrath has urged families to be vigilant after a spike in cases of Strep A in the North.
A five-year-old girl has died after contracting the infection, while schools have reported their pupils being diagnosed with the illness.
Mr McGrath said there was no need for alarm, but it was important that parents recognised signs of the illness and seek treatment for their child at the first opportunity.
South Down MLA Mr McGrath said:
“Following reports of a spike in Strep A and scarlet fever cases in the North and the tragic death of a five-year-old girl from the illness I would urge parents and guardians to remain vigilant and to know the signs to look out for. While there is no need for undue alarm, symptoms included a high fever and severe muscle aches could signify your child has contracted Strep A and it’s important children receive treatment as soon as possible, even as a precaution.
“Emerging from the coronavirus pandemic this situation will justifiably concern many parents, and it’s important that we see leadership from the Department of Health to provide reassurance, a proper awareness campaign around this illness and to ensure that any child who needs medical attention can receive it in a timely manner.
"I understand this is the only part of these islands where Strep A doesn't need to be reported to the relevant health authorities and I will be following that up and ensuring that no further precautions are needed to keep children safe.”
SDLP Children and Young People Spokesperson Cara Hunter called on the Department of Health to provide robust guidance to schools.
East Derry MLA Ms Hunter said:
“The rise in cases of Strep A and scarlet fever is causing concern in schools across the North. While I know our school leaders, teachers and staff will go above and beyond as they always do, it’s important that the Department of Health and Department for Education work together to ensure that schools are provided with proper guidance around managing this situation and are not left to deal with it themselves, as they were so often during the coronavirus pandemic.
“I would urge parents not to panic and to work with schools to ensure that their children are kept safe, without being unduly worried or having their education disrupted. A real tragedy has taken place here, a family are grieving, and we need to see efforts to reassure schools and parents that this situation is being managed and under control.”