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Strep A Cases Are No Cause for Panic

CCMH has had three patients with invasive Streptococcus A, sometimes called “flesh eating bacteria” in the past six weeks. Most Strep A illnesses are relatively mild and may present as strep throat or impetigo. However, severe, sometimes life-threatening disease may occur when Strep A bacteria gets into parts of the body where bacteria is not usually found, such as the blood, muscles or lungs. Few people who come in contact with Strep A bacteria will develop the virulent form of the disease, which is sometimes transmitted by breaks in the skin or sores that allow the bacteria to get into tissue, or when the person’s ability to fight disease is decreased due to chronic illness, immunodeficiency, or if they are elderly. These cases are rare, but have been in the public eye recently because of cases in other parts of the United States reported in the media.

Frequent handwashing is the best defense against any infection. CCMH follows infection prevention practices and procedures with all patients, including personal protective equipment and cleaning methods. It is not dangerous to come to the hospital. There is not an outbreak of “flesh eating bacteria” in the community. Strep A infections can be prevented by good handwashing techniques, especially after coughing and sneezing and before preparing food or eating. People with sore throats should be tested for strep throat. All wounds should be kept clean and watched for signs of infection, such as redness, swelling, drainage and pain at the wound site. People with signs of an infected wound should seek medical care.

For those who would like more information on the recent Strep A cases, feel free to attend a public forum with Dr. Christopher C. Brown, Infectious Diseases specialist, on Friday, September 28 at noon at CCMH fifth-floor classrooms 1 and 2.

Visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for more information at www.cdc.gov.

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