THE family of a Powys toddler who died from a suspected case of invasive strep A say they have been left “numb” by the death of their son.

Jacob McNeill, who was four, died on Monday, December 5, just a month before his fifth birthday. His mother, Corryne, described Jacob as a “smiley” little boy who “loved everyone”.

Corryne and her husband Darren, from Dolau, near Llandrindod Wells, said they wanted to raise awareness of the dangerous invasive Group A Streptococcal disease (iGAS) strain of the infection, in order for parents to understand its seriousness and to prevent other families from going through the trauma they have experienced.

“We’re just numb,” said Corryne of Knighton Primary School pupil Jacob’s death.

“We’re trying to understand, reflecting. The support we’ve had from his school and his friends and family has been incredible.

“They’ve made a little tree for him at the school and the comments underneath his little smiley face have been heartwarming. He was happy-go-lucky. He loved everyone and he loved animals.”

Jacob, a twin who also has older siblings, died less than 24 hours after he first became unwell, on Sunday, December 4. He passed away while on the way to hospital, after Corryne had taken him to their local GP on the Monday morning.

“He became a little bit unwell on the Sunday, but not alarmingly unwell,” said Corryne, who works as a health care professional and performed CPR on Jacob as his condition worsened while on the way to hospital.

“He’s been poorlier than that previously. On the Monday I went to get him up, he had a shower and within the space of a few hours he’d passed away. Overall, it was less than 24 hours.

“At first we thought maybe he had flu. He wasn’t able to say what the symptoms were, he just had a temperature, that was the only indication we had.

“We sought help from the GP and I was on my way to hospital with him. The doctor thought it was potentially a chest infection and advised us to go to the hospital, but we never got there. He died on the way. It was just me with him in the car.

“I performed CPR, I’m a medical professional myself so I knew what to do with my training, then the air ambulance and the road ambulance came but they weren’t able to do much for him.”

Symptoms of strep A are usually mild, involving a sore throat or a skin infection, and can be easily treated with antibiotics.

But it can cause a range of more serious problems, like scarlet fever, and invasive strep A can be deadly.

Ledbury Reporter: Strep A usually has mild symptoms. Strep A usually has mild symptoms.

Data released by the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) last week revealed 15 children under 15 have died of strep A in the UK since September.

Jacob’s death is thought to be the second in Wales, after seven-year-old Hanna Roap, from Penarth, near Cardiff, died earlier this month.

“It’s the time of year where kids get colds and sniffles. That’s the danger with strep A, it can appear to be something innocuous,” added Corryne.

“If you read the other stories of strep it seems to be the case that other parents have lost their children so quickly.

“It’s a worry for me as a mother and as a health care professional that it won’t be the end of it and other families will be going through what we are. It’s why we came forward to publicise it, parents need to go and get help if they’re in any doubt.

“We acted quickly and we still lost Jacob. All we wanted was to raise awareness. It’s an important story for what’s happened and what could happen, it’s not just the winter flu.

“Jacob had Downs Syndrome, however he’s always been relatively fit and well and it just happened so suddenly and we think parents need to be aware that they need to get help.

“Case numbers in children have increased and we would like to make other parents aware.”


Dr Ardiana Gjini, consultant in communicable disease control for Public Health Wales, said:

“Public Health Wales is working with Powys Teaching Health Board and Powys County Council following the recent death of a child in Powys.

“We offer our deepest condolences to the family, friends and all those affected. Public Health Wales cannot comment on individual cases.

“A multi-agency incident management team is following normal processes and investigating links to Invasive Group A Streptococcal disease (iGAS), a very rare complication of Group A Streptococcal infection.

“People identified for public health action have already been contacted and provided with appropriate treatment and advice. Individuals who have not been contacted do not need to take any specific action, however we remind parents to be vigilant for signs and symptoms of scarlet fever and iGAS.

“While we understand that parents are likely to be worried, cases of invasive group A streptococcal infection (iGAS) remain rare in Wales and children have a very low risk of contracting the disease.”

More information about Group A Streptococcal infection is available on the Public Health Wales website at