On 14th May 2019, the Government published some information and guidance around Group A Streptococcal Disease (GAS). Amongst prisoners, officers and healthcare staff, this is more commonly referred to as Strep A. This guidance was jointly created by Public Health England (PHE) and HM Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS).
What is Strep A?
Strep A is a type of bacteria often found in the throat and on the skin. The most invasive GAS (iGas) infections happen when the bacteria get past the skin and other bodily defence. The less common, but more severe cases on the invasive disease could be life threatening.
Over the past 18-24 months this bacteria has caused infection with ever increasing frequency amongst the prison population and across the wider prison estate. Local prisons are the most at risk of infections, given the correlation with those who are part of the homeless community (also a high risk area) and those active within the drug sub-culture being the most common.
Strep A – Signs And Symptoms.
Signs and symptoms of invasive group A streptococcal disease include:
- High fever
- Severe muscle aches
- Localised muscle tenderness
- Redness at the site of a wound
Where any of these symptoms develop, seek medical advice immediately. If anyone you know develops these symptoms, they should also seek medical advice immediately.
Actions To Minimise Risk.
- Prisoners should be encouraged to maintain clean cells.
- Prisoners should have opportunities for clothing to be washed at the right temperature and dried fully.
- Prisoner bedding should be regularly changed and washed. This should be more frequent for those who have wounds.
- Prisoners should have opportunities to wash and shower at least daily.
- Prisoners should be reminded of the importance of good hand hygiene – washing hands after using the toilet and before the eating or preparing of food.
- For those prisoners who have infected wounds, the guidance is that they should not use the gym, until they have had 48 hours of antibiotics and/or the wound is covered or healed.
The concerns will rise where the this guidance is not adhered to, and the disease is allowed too become more prevalent as a consequence of denial, ignorance or complacency. In all reality, it is likely to a combination of all of these factors.
The full guidance is found here.
Photo by Brian Patrick Tagalog on Unsplash.