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Rare Outbreak Of Deadly Strep Throat Kills 12 In The U.K.

A rare outbreak of a bacterial infection has killed 12 people in Essex, according to a National Health Service report.

According to the NHS, 32 cases of a particularly invasive strain of Group A streptococcus (the bacteria that causes strep throat) have been reported in Braintree, Chelmsford City and Maldon.

The pattern of cases was identified in March after a spate of reports in February, but the infections appear to stretch back to 2018, when one person died in Basildon.

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The outbreak has spurred the establishment of an NHS incident management team, which is working closely with public health organisation to manage the infections in these areas.

Group A Streptococcus is a bacteria that lives on hands and in the throat. It's commonly transferred person-to-person through sneezing, kissing and skin contact.

The earliest signs of infection are a sore red throat, fever, enlarged lymph nodes, and abdominal complaints such as vomiting or pain.

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Group A streptococcus can also cause more severe symptoms such as scarlet fever or skin infection.

In the vast majority of cases, the bacteria poses little risk, but in rare cases, the bacteria can enter the body and cause life-threatening conditions such as sepsis and toxic shock syndrome -- particularly when a person's immune system is already compromised.

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Most of those effected in Essex have been elderly and were receiving care for chronic complaints in community and care homes.

Rachel Hearn, director of nursing and quality for the Mid Essex Clinical Commissioning Group, said the risk of contracting the infection is "very low for the vast majority of people and treatment with antibiotics is very effective if started early."

The NHS team is currently working to try and understand how the outbreak is occurring.