By NewsDesk   @infectiousdiseasenews

Health officials with NHS Mid Essex are reporting an outbreak of invasive Group A streptococcus (iGAS) infections among elderly people receiving treatment for wounds in care homes and in their own homes.

Group A Streptococci
Image/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

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.

iGAS infection develops when the bacterium Streptococcus pyogenes gets into the blood, joints, lungs, or lining of the brain causing severe and even life-threatening conditions. Streptococcus pyogenes also causes more common diseases, like strep throat and minor skin infections.

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.

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“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.”

Nationally this season to date, there have been 1,500 notifications of iGAS disease reported through laboratory surveillance in England, 8% higher than the average (1,386) for the previous five years (range 1,015 to 2,040) and 26% lower than the same point last season (2,040)(figure 3). The highest rates this season were reported in the Yorkshire and Humber region (4.8 per 100,000 population), followed by the North East (3.1), North West (3.0) and West Midlands (2.8/100,000). The lowest was reported by the East of England and South East regions at 2.1/100,000.