Mum's run for little survivor Harvey

A MUM who nearly lost her son to a deadly baby disease is campaigning for the NHS to screen all mums for the infection.

Harvey Marshall was two weeks old when he contracted Group B streptococcal disease (Group B Strep) — one of the most severe infections that can strike infants.

He had seemed a perfectly healthy baby when he was born on July 29 last year, but it was not until he was discharged with mum Katie Wright that his health took a downturn.

Miss Wright, aged 23, from Farnworth, said: “He would not stop crying and was breathing really fast. Then he developed a rash.

“I’m a first-time mum, so it was really upsetting. I didn’t know what was going on.”

Miss Wright took Harvey to the GP out-of-hours service and he was immediately admitted to the Royal Bolton Hospital.

He was diagnosed with Group B Strep and given a lumber puncture then a course of antibiotics to beat the infection.

Harvey survived and was eventually able to go home nine days later. A year on, Harvey is a happy, healthy tot — but Miss Wright says more should be done to prevent other babies falling victim to Group B Strep.

She said: “It was so frightening because he actually turned grey. The whole thing was so upsetting to see. It’s a mum’s worst nightmare, but Harvey was one of the lucky ones.

“He was amazing and just fought through it all.”

Miss Wright is taking on the Big Manchester Fun Run on Sunday, to boost funds for the charity Group B Strep Support, with her sister Nicola Wright and friend Katrina Finch.

Group B Strep Support has also launched a petition calling for all mums to be screened for the disease in the UK. The infection often lives harmlessly in the mother, but can prove fatal once transferred to the baby during pregnancy.

However, there is no screening programme for Group B Strep in the UK, unlike in Europe and America.

Dr Paul Settle, clinical lead for neonatology at the Royal Bolton Hospital, said: “Naturally, it is very worrying for any parents whose baby contracts Group B Strep, but nationally it has been decided that there is no clear evidence that screening all pregnant women would have more advantages than disadvantages.

“That does not mean to say we ignore the issue. We work hard with our obstetric and midwifery colleagues to identify and treat babies at risk.”

Group B Strep is the most common infection recorded on death certificates in the first months of life.

Between five and 10 per cent of babies who contract the disease will die, while it can also cause cerebral palsy and meningitis in infants who survive.

New figures released by Public Health England show the number of cases increased from about 200 in 2005 to 300 in 2010 — a 50 per cent rise.

To sponsor Miss Wright’s Big Manchester Fun Run effort, go to: justgiving.com/ katie-wright2013.

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