Streptococcal Infection Outbreak 'Evolving'

Peter Russell

June 26, 2019

Twelve patients have now died in mid Essex in an outbreak of invasive Group A streptococcus (iGAS).

The NHS said it was responding to a number of cases of bacterial infections among elderly people receiving treatment for wounds in care homes and in their own homes.

It said there had been 32 cases in Braintree District, Chelmsford City, and Maldon District.

NHS Mid Essex Clinical Commissioning Group (Mid Essex CCG) said it was leading an incident management team alongside Provide Community Interest Company, Public Health England, and supported by NHS England and NHS Improvement.

Additional infection control measures had been established, it said.

Working Hard to Contain an Evolving Situation

Dr Jorg Hoffmann, deputy director health protection for PHE East of England, described the situation as "evolving" and that all parties were "working very hard to contain it".

Mid Essex CCG Board meeting papers said that the reason why the infection had spread had not yet been identified. A full investigation was being carried out to understand how it could have spread and any additional control measures required.

In the meantime, the incident management team was keeping GPs, hospital and community providers in Essex, and care homes, informed to give them additional information on iGAS and details of who they should contact if they had any concerns.

Infections were originally confined to the Braintree area, but had since spread to the Chelmsford and Maldon areas.

There was also a single case in Basildon in 2018, and another in Southend in February 2019. However, no direct link has been established between these cases and the cases in mid Essex.

Rachel Hearn, director of nursing and quality at Mid Essex CCG, 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."

Dr Hoffmann said: "I would like to emphasise that the risk of contracting iGAS is very low for healthy people and treatment with antibiotics is very effective, if started early enough."

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