A TODDLER tragically collapsed and died while watching cartoons at home – leaving his family devastated.
Three-year-old Theo Emm hadn't shown any symptoms before he died at his home in Westbury, Wiltshire, on Saturday, February 18 after contracting Strep A.
The night before his tragic death, his family said Theo was a "bit lethargic" but he had seemed in a good mood as he went to bed.
And in a tragic blow to the family, they had just welcomed their newest addition – a baby brother for Theo – only days before.
Theo's parents Billy and Jody were too devastated to speak, but have asked for awareness to be spread about Strep-A's lethal unpredictability.
Speaking on behalf of the distraught couple, Billy's brother, Chris, said: "Usually they would be okay about talking, but they just didn't feel they could.
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"They did say to me that they wanted more than anything to raise awareness and not for people to think it is a sob story to take pity on them.
"This kind of condition in children is often called a 'silent killer' and it is very rare for children to die from it.
"In Theo's case, there were no symptoms. He just collapsed on the Saturday morning and died."
A nurse in the accident and emergency department at Salisbury District Hospital, Chris described what happened the morning Theo collapsed.
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He said: "When he woke up on Saturday morning he wanted to watch the cartoons on TV so he was carried downstairs.
"Billy and Jody decided to phone 111 and while they were on the phone Theo just collapsed with a cardiac arrest."
HEALTH CHECK What is Group Strep A and what are the symptoms of infection?
Group A Streptococcus (GAS) – is also known as Streptococcus pyogenes.
It is a bacteria that can cause mild illnesses, including sore throats and skin infections, alongside tonsillitis, cellulitis, impetigo (a very contagious infection that starts with blistered skin) and scarlet fever, which is flu-like and tends to occur in children – it can be serious if not treated swiftly with antibiotics.
However, in rare cases, the bacteria can trigger invasive Group Strep A disease, which can prove life-threatening and even fatal.
What are the symptoms?
There are four key signs of invasive Group A Strep to watch out for, according to the NHS. These are:
- A fever (meaning a high temperature above 38°C)
- Severe muscle aches
- Localised muscle tenderness
- Redness at the site of a wound
A Wiltshire Air Ambulance emergency response team arrived at the family's Meadow Lane home within minutes of the call.
Paramedics carried out CPR on Theo for about half an hour but they were unable to revive him.
Billy, 29, and Jody, 31, are looking into having counselling sessions to try to come to terms with Theo's sudden death.
Strep A is a bacteria which can cause mild illnesses, including sore throats and skin infections but can be serious if not treated swiftly with antibiotics.
In more rare cases, the bacteria can trigger invasive Group Strep A disease, which can prove life-threatening and even fatal.
Chris added: "They are still trying to process what has happened but having a new child is helping a lot.
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"Strep A has been around for years but unless you routinely swab a child you would never find it."
Theo’s funeral will take place on Tuesday, March 21 at the West Wiltshire Crematorium at Semington.
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