Further fatality in Essex outbreak of deadly strain of Strep A

A total of 35 people have now been affected by the outbreak, which has seen community nurses given precautionary antibiotics and nursing bases deep-cleaned.

Infections had been confined to the mid Essex area but those in charge of efforts to contain the spread have now reported two cases in West Essex.

Mid Essex Clinical Commissioning Group, which is leading the NHS response, confirmed this week that one of the patients in West Essex had died, bringing the total number of deaths to 13.

Both patients in West Essex have been linked to the main outbreak in mid Essex, according to the latest briefing from the CCG.

Meanwhile, there has been one new case of suspected IGAS in mid-Essex meaning 35 people in all have been affected.

Of those 35 cases, 31 have been confirmed and four are probable, said the CCG.

Patients affected are mainly older members of the community receiving treatment for wounds in care homes or in their own homes.

Mid Essex CCG has set up an incident management team and said it was working closely with West Essex CCG and other partners manage the outbreak.

These include health and social care provider Provide Community Interest Company, which delivers a range of community services in the area, including adult nursing.

“These two cases appear to be isolated cases of IAGS that can arise in the community”

Mid Essex CCG

Steps taken so far include the testing of hundreds of patients treated by mid Essex community nursing teams to check for the bacteria.

Community nursing staff have been given preventative antibiotics, strict infection control measures are in place, and a deep clean of all nurse bases in mid Essex has now been completed.

Meanwhile, nurses who usually work in the CM7 postcode area in Braintree – where most of the IAGS cases have occurred – are only working in that area for the time being to minimise the risk of infection spreading.

Mid Essex CCG said Public Health England was due to advise on control measures to be implemented in West Essex.

Earlier this month, Public Health England undertook Whole Genome Sequencing in a bid to find out more about how the infection had spread.

The process, which involves analysing the DNA of bacteria collected from patients, enables scientists to check whether or not cases are genetically linked.

The exercise confirmed that a single case of IGAS in Basildon in 2018 and another single case in Southend in February 2019, which were previously thought to be linked to the current outbreak, are not in fact linked.

“These two cases appear to be isolated cases of IAGS that can arise in the community and have now been removed from the outbreak investigation,” said the CCG.

The CCG said further information from the Whole Genome Sequencing work would be shared in due course.

“The NHS understands this is a worrying time for people and wants to reassure members of the public that the risk of contracting IGAS is very low. Treatment with antibiotics is usually very effective when started early,” said the CCG update.

A freephone helpline has been set up for anyone with concerns about IAGS infection. Calls are now being handled by staff from Essex County Council.