Group A streptococcal infection update

A hospital ward affected by the Group A Streptococcal infection has begun admitting new patients.

The decision was taken after all patients in Liberton Hospital’s ward four were screened and treated where appropriate.

All staff connected with the ward also participated in the screening process to reduce the risk of infection and re-infection.

As a result, there have been no new cases of the infection, caused by a bacterium and usually found living harmlessly on the skin, nose or throat, for two weeks.

Dr Patrick Gibb, Consultant Microbiologist and chair of the Incident Management Team, said:

“The ward will re-open and begin admitting new patients. The risk of anyone else on the ward developing the infection is now the same as if they were in the community.
“We have screened and, where necessary, treated both patients and staff to prevent re-infection and there have been no new cases for a fortnight.”

Ward four was closed after two elderly in-patients died after developing the infection. An 86-year-old woman died at the end of January. An 82-year-old man contracted the illness at the same time and although he received antibiotic treatment but died a fortnight later following further complications.

Long standing infection control procedures were reinforced on the ward and a special ‘deep clean’ was carried out as a further precaution before new patients were admitted yesterday.

Patients and their relatives have been kept up to date with all new developments and have been told the ward will re-open. Newly admitted patients will be able to discuss any concerns over Group A Streptococcal infection with staff, as they can with concerns over any issue.

Most Group A Streptococcal infections are relatively mild and can result in a sore throat, respiratory infections and skin infections such as impetigo. On rare occasions, the bacteria can cause serious illness.

These are known as invasive infections and are usually caused when the organism enters the system through an open wound or skin lesion.
They are most common in those aged 75 and over. The incidence of these is very low, with around one to four cases per 100,000 population in Scotland.