Twelve people have died of a rare bacterial infection known as Strep A that has spread in Essex, the NHS has said.
There have been 32 reported cases of the disease, called invasive Group A streptococcus (iGAS), according to the NHS Mid Essex Clinical Commissioning Group. It said the outbreak started in Braintree and has since spread to the Chelmsford and Maldon areas, but did not give a timeline for this.
Public Health England said it was a “local incident”.
The bacteria can be found in the throat and on the skin and people may carry it without displaying any symptoms. It can live in throats and on hands for long enough to allow easy spread between people through sneezing, kissing and skin contact. In a report, the clinical commissioning group said the “sometimes life-threatening GAS disease may occur when bacteria get into parts of the body where bacteria usually are not found, such as the blood, muscle, or the lungs”.
It said that “most of the patients affected are elderly and had been receiving care for chronic wounds, in the community, either in their own homes and some in care homes”.
An incident management team has been established to “control the incident and closely monitor the situation”.
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