Alaska Public Health Advisory on invasive Group A Streptococcus infectionsDecember 2, 2016
Categories: Alaska Native Medical Center
The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) identified a cluster of invasive Group A Streptococcus infections caused by a new strain (emm-type, emm-26) and released an Alaska Public Health Advisory notice. This strain was recently described in several media stories and has led to 4 deaths in Fairbanks and Anchorage. A predominant number of these cases have affected the local Anchorage homeless population. Group A Streptococcus (Strep) may cause a wide range of illness, including colonization without illness, sore throat, skin infection, necrotizing fasciitis, pneumonia, blood stream infections and toxic shock syndrome. Invasive Group A Strep infections (positive blood or tissue cultures of the organism) are reported routinely to the state health department by the Laboratory and Infection Control departments. The Alaska State Health Department identified this new strain of Group A Strep through advanced molecular testing that is not performed by hospitals. The identification of a particular strain does not change the clinical treatment by hospitals and health providers. ANTHC is in communication with the Department of Health and Social Services and we alerted all providers on our staff. We follow all recommendations for treatment and prevention related to Strep A, including the newly identified strain. ANTHC supports the State of Alaska’s increased surveillance at homeless shelters to identify and provide early treatment for any affected individual. More information on the disease and reporting requirements can be found from DHSS at http://dhss.alaska.gov/dph/Epi/Documents/pubs/mmm/MMM_Chapter_StreptococcusPyogenesGAS.pdf.