A 24-year-old woman died of sepsis just weeks after getting cold symptoms, her heartbroken family has revealed.
Bethannie Booth, of Merthyr Tydfil in Wales, originally had a sore throat, fever and headache.
The primary school worker then developed red bumps on her face, which NHS 111 allegedly dismissed as being down to acne.
It was only when she started to suffer from breathing difficulties days later that she was advised to go to hospital, where doctors discovered her lung had collapsed due to Strep A infection, her family say.
Despite medics initially believing that she was recovering after weeks in hospital, Ms Booth developed ‘uncontrollable’ sepsis — a complication of the bacterial infection.
She died on March 31. Her family are now urging people to be aware of the signs of sepsis.
Bethannie Booth, from Merthyr Tydfil, was put into a coma when she developed sepsis after contracting Strep A
Strep A, medically known as Group A Streptococcus or Group A Strep, can cause a range of infections, including strep throat, tonsillitis and impetigo.
Signs can include flu-like symptoms, such as a fever, swollen glands and body aches, as well as a rash and scabs and sores.
Most infections are not serious and can be treated with antibiotics. However, in severe cases, the bacteria can cause pneumonia and toxic shock syndrome, as well as sepsis.
Sepsis happens when the immune system overreacts to an infection and starts to attack the body’s own tissue and organs.
Ms Booth, nicknamed Betts by her family, contacted NHS 111 on March 2 to discuss her symptoms, which included a cold and flu-like illness and red bumps on her face.
However, she rang back a few days later complaining of breathing difficulties and was advised to go to hospital.
When Ms Booth arrived at the Royal Glamorgan Hospital, in Llantrisant, South Wales, she was taken straight to the ICU, where doctors discovered that her lung had collapsed due to a Strep A infection and other organs were failing.
It is unclear how her lung collapsed. But one complication of Strep A is pneumonia, which can cause the organ to collapse.
Ms Booth was put into a coma before being transferred to St Guy’s and Thomas Hospital in London.
She spent more than a fortnight on an ecmo (extra corporeal membrane oxygenation) machine, which provides respiratory support to people unable to breathe independently.
During her time at St Guy’s and St Thomas, she also underwent surgery to repair a hole in her lung.
Medics said she had shown good progress while on the ecmo machine and was transferred back to the Royal Glamorgan.
Her father Wayne Booth said doctors told the family it was ‘very unlikely’ she would die at that stage, but warned that she had a long recovery ahead.
Ms Booth sent her parents, Wayne and Leanne Booth, above, final messages while in hospital
However, five days after her return to the Royal Glamorgan, Ms Booth developed sepsis — which medics described as ‘uncontrollable’.
She died surrounded by her parents Wayne and Leanne and her two sisters Nia-Ffion and Megan.
Ms Booth’s sister Megan said that before her sister was put in a coma, she sent her older sister Nia-Ffion a message saying she thought she was going to die, also giving instructions for what she wanted at her funeral.
She also sent her parents final messages while in hospital.
Her father said: ‘I have only one way I can explain Beth — imagine the best female has got the biggest angel wings, who would do anything for anyone — from a man living on the streets to a man in a mansion.
‘She was so loved — the children [in her school] loved her, our grandchildren loved her. They say the best get taken from us first — God needs his angels.
‘It has ripped us all apart.’
Ms Booth’s mother Leanne added: ‘She’s a character but she’s the best friend you could ever have.’
A GoFundMe page was set up to help raise money for funeral costs, which has so far raised more than £6,500.
What are the symptoms of Strep A? How does it spread? And is it the same as scarlet fever? Everything you need to know about the killer bug
What is Strep A?
Group A Streptococcus (Group A Strep or Strep A) bacteria can cause many different infections.
The bacteria are commonly found in the throat and on the skin, and some people have no symptoms.
Infections cause by Strep A range from minor illnesses to serious and deadly diseases.
They include the skin infection impetigo, scarlet fever and strep throat.
While the vast majority of infections are relatively mild, sometimes the bacteria cause life-threatening illness called invasive Group A Streptococcal disease.
What is invasive Group A Streptococcal disease?
Invasive Group A Strep disease is sometimes a life-threatening infection in which the bacteria have invaded parts of the body, such as the blood, deep muscle or lungs.
Two of the most severe, but rare, forms of invasive disease are necrotising fasciitis and streptococcal toxic shock syndrome.
Necrotising fasciitis is also known as the ‘flesh-eating disease’ and can occur if a wound gets infected.
Streptococcal toxic shock syndrome is a rapidly progressing infection causing low blood pressure/shock and damage to organs such as the kidneys, liver and lungs.
This type of toxic shock has a high death rate.
READ MAILONLINE’S FULL Q&A ON STREP A.