Streptococcus outbreak in mid Essex

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25 June 2019

The NHS in the mid Essex area is responding to a number of local cases of bacterial infections among elderly people, most of whom were receiving wound care in their own homes, though some were also in care homes.

To date there have been 32 cases of invasive Group A streptococcus (iGAS) in Braintree District, Chelmsford City and Maldon District and sadly 12 patients have died. There was also a single case in Basildon in 2018 and another in Southend in February 2019, however currently there appears to be no direct link between these cases and the cases in mid Essex.

An incident management team has been set up, led by NHS Mid Essex CCG, with input also from Provide Community Interest Company, Public Health England and support from NHS England and NHS Improvement.

Group A streptococcus (GAS) is a bacteria that can be found in the throat and on the skin and for many people will not cause any illness. Most Group A streptococcus infections cause relatively mild illnesses such as ‘strep throat’ (a sore throat), scarlet fever or a skin infection. There is an extremely low risk of serious infection to healthy people but on rare occasions, these bacteria can enter the body and cause severe and even life-threatening conditions. This infection is called Invasive Group A streptococcal disease (IGAS).

Additional infection control measures have been put in place to prevent the infection spreading.

Rachel Hearn, Director of Nursing and Quality, Mid Essex Clinical Commissioning Group said: “Our thoughts are with the families of those patients who have died.

“The NHS in Essex is working closely with Public Health England and other partners to manage this local incident, and extra infection control measures have been put in place to prevent the infection spreading in the area.

“The risk of contracting iGAS is very low for the vast majority of people and treatment with antibiotics is very effective if started early. We will continue to work with our partners in Public Health England to investigate how this outbreak occurred and take every possible step to ensure our local community is protected.”

Anyone who is worried can call a Freephone helpline on 03000 032124. Lines are open Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm. 

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