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​4 dead this year as outbreak of new strep bacteria hits Alaska

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  • Shiloh

    Report details response to strep outbreak in Anchorage homeless population
    Author: Devin Kelly
    Updated: 6 hours ago calendar Published 17 hours ago

    An infectious outbreak of a new, virulent strain of strep bacteria led to three deaths in Anchorage's homeless population among five deaths statewide but appears to be declining now that health officials took the unprecedented step of distributing antibiotics and antiseptic body wash at shelters over the winter.

    In a new report released Tuesday, officials describe in detail the unusual concentration in Anchorage of infections tied to the strep bacteria, which disproportionately affected people who were homeless and addicted to alcohol...

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  • Shiloh

    Health workers trying to control rare strep outbreak in homeless population
    By Anne Hillman, Alaska Public Media -
    February 13, 2017

    There?s an outbreak of a newly identified, rare strain of Group A Streptococcus bacteria in Anchorage that?s mostly impacting people who are experiencing homelessness. Public health workers will be visiting Brother Francis Shelter, Beans? Cafe, and other services this week to distribute antibiotics and antiseptics to try to stop the spread of the disease.

    State epidemiologist Joe McLaughlin said the bacteria is fairly common. Most healthy people don?t show any symptoms or just have mild skin or throat infections. But if a person?s immune system is already compromised, then the bacteria can enter into a small cut and lead to major infections, toxic shock syndrome, or amputations.

    ?The homeless population is more at risk in general for these types of invasive diseases because they?re at higher likelihood to have other chronic conditions,? he explained during a phone interview. ?They might also have decreased access to care and decreased opportunities for self care and personal hygiene.?

    The outbreak started in Fairbanks over the summer then died down. It spread to Anchorage in the fall. There have been seven to 10 severe cases per month since October. Ninety percent of the patients were homeless. Four people have died...

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  • ​4 dead this year as outbreak of new strep bacteria hits Alaska

    4 dead this year as outbreak of new strep bacteria hits Alaska

    Author: Laurel Andrews Updated: 3 hours ago Published 20 hours ago

    Update 11 a.m. Tuesday: The Alaska section of epidemiology reported Tuesday morning that an additional death in Fairbanks was not originally included in its data. The story has been updated to reflect four deaths due to group A strep infection, instead of three, as previously reported.

    Original story:

    A new strain of group A Streptococcus bacteria first identified in Fairbanks in early 2016 has caused an outbreak in Anchorage, mainly among the homeless population, a state health department official said Monday afternoon.

    At least 28 people in Fairbanks and Anchorage have been hospitalized since the bacteria were identified, and four have died due to different invasive diseases, said Joe McLaughlin, state epidemiologist and chief of the Alaska section of epidemiology with the Department of Health and Social Services.

    "This outbreak is a new strain that we've never seen before. So having this increased number of cases of group A strep is not atypical," McLaughlin said.