Twelve elderly patients in the South East of England have died after contracting invasive Group A streptococcus (iGAS). A further 20 people have been infected.
The patients were receiving treatment for wounds across care homes and their own homes, said the NHS Mid Essex Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG).
The cases were found across Braintree District, Chelmsford City and Maldon District. A single case was found in Basildon in 2018, and one in Southend in February 2019 but these are not thought to be linked to the latest outbreak.
NHS Mid Essex CCG is leading an incident management team with support from health and social care services social enterprise Provide Community Interest Company, Public Health England, NHS England and NHS Improvement.
Mid Essex CCG director of nursing and quality Rachel Hearn said: “The NHS in Essex is working closely with Public Health England and other partners to manage this local incident, and extra infection control measures have been put in place to prevent the infection spreading in the area.
“The risk of contracting iGAS is very low for the vast majority of people and treatment with antibiotics is very effective if started early. We will continue to work with our partners in Public Health England to investigate how this outbreak occurred and take every possible step to ensure our local community is protected.”
PHE East of England deputy director health protection Jorg Hoffmann said: “Public Health England has been investigating the cause of the infection which has been an evolving situation over the past few weeks.
“Our role is to advise health organisations on extra precautions they can take to prevent an infection spreading. We monitor and assess the situation closely and as with this incident, look at further measures that can be introduced if the infection isn’t being contained.”