Henrico pre-schooler dies from strep

HENRICO, VA (WWBT) - A Henrico pre-schooler has died, prompting health officials to warn parents about an unusual form of strep.

Health authorities say the child's death appears to be an isolated case. Still, they're asking parents to be aware of signs and symptoms.

The pre-schooler, who attended Kids in Discovery in the far west end, died recently, say county health officials...who declined to give specifics on age or sex.

But according to a letter sent Tuesday to parents of the other children who go there...the death was caused by an invasive Group A strep infection...something much more severe than an ordinary throat infection.

Dr. Bill Nelson is with the Henrico County Health Department.

"A disease like this, that can be very random, very sudden and fast-moving," he said.

Nelson said invasive strep -which, in this case, spread to the child's brain- is unusual...caused when the strep bacteria enters the bloodstream through a small cut or wound.

While the Health Department specified that the child attended Kids in Discovery Preschool, its director, who was deeply saddened, told us by phone that the child's death did not occur there.

The child had shown symptoms for several days. The letter this week was meant to make parents aware of the situation, and what can be done to keep their children healthy.

"Hand washing is one of the greatest interventions," Nelson said.

The pre-school was operating as usual Wednesday morning. Nelson says the risk of this infection spreading appears low.

"It's unfortunate. It's just random bad luck. And it's a tragedy. Our hearts go out to the family," he said.

Authorities at the Health Department didn't have a lot of room to elaborate -citing privacy laws- but they did say parents and preschool staff took all the appropriate steps for this child.

Symptoms of an invasive strep infection include a fever, headache, rash, or lack of energy. Doctors say it requires immediate medical attention.

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