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The Alaska Section of Epidemiology is working in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Arctic Investigations Program and the Municipality of Anchorage on characterizing and responding to an increased number of invasive Group A Streptococcus infections, it was announced by the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services on Tuesday.
Group A Streptococcus, also known as Streptococcus pyogenes, with its novel genetype emm type 26 (emm-26) has been confirmed in 28 cases, with 10 cases confirmed in Fairbanks and 18 cases in Anchorage. Fourteen of these cases have occurred during October and November, with most of the recent Anchorage cases having occurred in homeless men with a history of alcohol abuse.
The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services said in an advisory:
According to the advisory on the outbreak:
The Alaska Section of Epidemiology and the CDC-AIP are working together to investigate the outbreak with the assistance of the Municipality of Anchorage’s Department of Health and Social Services, and the agencies have been consulting with experts with CDC in Atlanta.
The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services has been in contact with Alaska health care providers, advising that they maintain an elevated index of suspicion for invasive GAS infections, especially in persons with skin and soft tissue infections so that providers can initiate appropriate early therapy to reduce morbidity and mortality. ADHSS is also communicating with homeless service providers to raise awareness among homeless people and to promote personal hygiene and prompt wound care.
The best way to prevent the spread of GAS is to follow good personal hygiene practices, including frequently washing hands with soap and water, covering coughs and sneezes, and keeping wounds clean and dry.
Persons with skin or possible GAS infection should seek medical care immediately.