Essex Strep A: Outbreak downgraded after six months clear

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Streptococcus pyogenesImage source, BSIP/Getty Images
Image caption,
The outbreak of Group A streptococcal infection began in Braintree

An outbreak of streptococcus that killed 15 older people has been downgraded by the NHS after there were no new cases for six months.

Some of the control measures put in place in mid and west Essex to stop the spread of the outbreak have been lifted.

In total, 39 patients contracted Group A Streptococcus iGAS, which may have been linked to community nurses.

Mid Essex CCG said it will "remain vigilant in the coming months".

It also said the incident management team has been disbanded.

What is strep A?

  • Group A streptococcal (GAS) infection is caused by strains of the streptococcus pyogenes bacterium
  • The bacteria can live on hands or the throat for long enough to allow easy spread between people through sneezing, kissing and skin contact
  • Most infections cause mild illnesses such as "strep throat", scarlet fever or skin infections
  • The bacteria rarely infects healthy people but if it does get into the rest of the body, causing serious and even life-threatening conditions it is known as invasive GAS or iGAS

Source: Mid Essex Clinical Commissioning Group

Rachel Hearn from Mid Essex Clinical Commissioning Group said it was "still working closely with partners to monitor the situation and will continue to do so".

"Our thoughts remain with the families of patients affected and those who have died as a result of iGAS," she added.

The CCG commissioned an independent investigation into the outbreak which is due to be published in the spring.

Last year a document obtained by the BBC revealed the "most likely cause" of the outbreak was district nursing teams.

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