Group A streptococcal infection

A man who had been treated in NHS Lothian for the Group A streptococcal infection has died.

The 82-year-old developed the infection in Liberton Hospital two weeks ago. He had received antibiotics for the illness, but went on to suffer further complications.

It is the second death associated with Group A Strep, which is caused by a bacterium, usually found living harmlessly on the skin, nose or throat.

An 86-year-old woman who developed the infection at the same time died a fortnight ago, as previously reported.

Both had been inpatients in ward 4 in Liberton Hospital and as a precaution, infection control procedures were reinforced and still remain in place. The ward is not accepting new patients.

Screening for staff and patients is also being undertaken to reduce the possibility of repeat infection.

Dr Dermot Gorman, Consultant in Public Health Medicine, NHS Lothian, said:

 “Our thoughts are with the families of both patients at this difficult time.
“Patients in Liberton and their relatives can be reassured that all steps are being taken and that infection control measures have been reinforced to protect them, staff and visitors.”

Two other patients have since been diagnosed with the infection in their blood and are both well following antibiotic treatment. One other patient had a skin infection which has responded to treatment.

Four patients were found to be colonised which means the infection was living on their skin, nose or throat without causing any harm. They are all well and also being treated with antibiotics.

Another patient who was recently admitted into the RIE was also found to have the Group A strep infection, but has no connection with ward four at Liberton.
Tests are underway to establish the source and strains of the infection to determine if there is any link between all of the cases.

All patients in ward four in Liberton and their relatives have been informed. The nature of the infection and the actions taken have been fully explained to them.

Most Group A Strep infections are relatively mild. The infection can result in a sore throat or skin infection such as impetigo and can also cause respiratory infections.

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.

The incidence of these more serious infections is very low, with around one to four cases per 100,000 population in Scotland.

The invasive infection is most common in the elderly population, especially those aged 75 and over.


  1. In total three patients in ward 4 are currently being treated for strep A.
  2. Four further patients in ward 4 were found to be colonised which means the infection was living on their skin, nose or throat without causing them any harm.
  3. Two elderly patients in ward 4 with strep A have died. Both patients had underlying health problems.
  4.  One further patient, who has no connection with ward 4 at Liberton Hospital, has been admitted to the RIE with strep A.