Our little girl, 10, died after doctors missed her Strep A – don’t ignore these signs or your child could be next

Heartbroken parents have spoken out after their daughter tragically died of invasive group A strep infection four years ago.

They claim their little girl, Vivienne Murphy, would still be alive today if doctors had spotted signs of the deadly condition sooner.

Vivienne Murphy - Strep A Investigation Story Collect by Seán McCárthaigh


Vivienne Murphy – Strep A Investigation Story Collect by Seán McCárthaighPhoto credit: Seán McCárthaigh

It comes as cases of the bug are increasing in the UK.

The 10-year-old first suffered from a sore throat, high temperature, rash and aches and pains in February 2019, according to an inquest before the Dublin Borough Coroner last week.

Vivienne’s mother, Lilly Murphy, said her family was “devastated, traumatised, shocked and overwhelmed and in disbelief” at their daughter’s death – after they were later told it could have been avoided as Strep A is curable with antibiotics .

In an emotional statement read at the inquest, Lilly described how her daughter screamed every time she moved her head and how alarmed they were to discover her chest was covered in a red rash.

“We saw doctors three times with worsening symptoms and nothing was done to treat our daughter,” she said.

The first doctor to examine Vivienne on February 14 reassured parents that it was just heat stroke and that she was also likely suffering from a virus she had Irish mirror reported.

She told them to keep giving her daughter Nurofen and Calpol and using her inhalers.

However, Lilly said Vivienne’s condition remained the same over the next two days.

On February 16, Vivienne’s parents went to the doctor again after the rash had spread down her thighs and upper body. She only ate and drank when forced to.

But doctors sent the 10-year-old home and told her parents to contact her GP after the weekend if she still had the same symptoms.

Just two days later, Vivienne was unable to walk because the pain in her legs was so extreme, but the third GP they visited on February 18 also claimed it was “just a viral rash” and refused to give the child any medication prescribe.

The investigation revealed that there were medical notes showing that Vivienne had suffered similar symptoms, identified as Strep A, for which she had been given an antibiotic some years earlier.

Despite the advice of the three doctors, Lilly and her husband felt something more serious was wrong and rushed Vivienne to the Emergency Department at Cork University Hospital on February 20, 2019.

Doctors quickly diagnosed the child with sepsis — the body’s extreme response to a life-threatening infection — and became increasingly concerned about a black spot on her leg.

Blood tests later revealed that Vivienne was seriously ill and that the mark on her leg was a deadly carnivorous bug – the entire leg had to be amputated to prevent infection from spreading to other parts of her body.

But the operation was too late and the infection had already spread.

The inquest found she went into cardiac arrest the next day in a scene that Lilly said resembles “a war zone with blood all over the bed and floor that will stay with us until the day we die.”

Days later, parents were told that Vivienne needed an MRI scan to determine how much brain damage she had sustained after the cardiac arrest.

Lilly said the family was later told the “devastating news that our beautiful little girl was completely brain dead with no hope of recovery.”

After the decision was made to turn off Vivienne’s ventilator, she said they would be scarred for life if they “had to witness our beautiful little angel gulping and gasping for 40 minutes.”

The corner, Cróna Gallagher, determined the cause of death to be a medical accident, which is an adverse reaction that occurs as an unintended result of surgery or other medical treatment.

The coroner also said they would raise awareness of signs of Strep A among medical professionals

An autopsy on the girl’s body revealed that she had died of group A streptococcal sepsis with necrotizing fasciitis (commonly known as “flesh-eating disease”).

What is Strep A?

In most cases, Strep A bacteria cause mild illness, but in rare cases they can cause invasive Strep A disease.

Group A Streptococcus (GAS) is a type of bacteria found in the throat and on the skin.

Invasive group A streptococci occur when these bacteria enter the bloodstream or other areas where they shouldn’t be.

This can then lead to serious diseases such as pneumonia, meningitis and sepsis.

At least 40 children have died from Strep A in the UK since January 2023.

There have been 32 child casualties in England under the age of 18, the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) said.

Tolls in England are the first official increase since January 12.

Scotland has had three deaths among young people under the age of 10 and Wales has had five deaths among those under the age of 15, official figures show.

There are believed to have been three deaths in Northern Ireland, local reports say, but there is no official nationwide toll.

The 2017–18 season saw a total of 354 deaths, including 27 deaths in children under the age of 18.

Unfortunately there have been 262 deaths across all age groups in England so far this season

What are the symptoms?

According to the NHS, there are four key signs of invasive group A strep to look out for. These are:

  1. Fever (ie a high temperature above 38°C)
  2. Severe muscle pain
  3. Localized muscle tenderness
  4. Redness at the site of a wound

The invasive version of the disease occurs when the bacteria breach the body’s immune defenses.

This can happen if you are already unwell or have a weakened immune system.

Two of the most serious examples of invasive diseases are necrotizing fasciitis – a very rare but life-threatening infection also known as “flesh-eating disease” – and toxic shock syndrome.

Who is at risk?

Some people are at higher risk of contracting the invasive form.

According to the NHS, these people include anyone who:

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  • is in close contact with someone who already has it
  • is over 65 years old
  • is diabetic
  • has heart disease or cancer
  • recently had chicken pox
  • has HIV
  • uses some steroids or intravenous drugs

The time of year can also be a factor. Outbreaks can be widespread in late winter and early spring, but the risk remains year-round.

https://www.thescottishsun.co.uk/health/10464009/child-dead-strep-a-symptoms-ireland/ Our little girl, 10, died after doctors missed her Strep A – don’t ignore these signs or your child could be next

Andrew Schnitker

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