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Wed Sep 11, 2019, 03:01 AM

New bacterial strain discovered in England and Wales linked to scarlet fever

by Kate Wighton
10 September 2019

A team of scientists led by Imperial College London have discovered a new strain of group A streptococcus bacteria.

Group A streptococcus (or Strep A) is known to cause scarlet fever, throat infections and in very rare cases invasive disease, where the bacterium enters the bloodstream or tissue and can trigger sepsis and toxic shock.

The research team, who published their work in the journal The Lancet Infectious Diseases, say the new strain, called M1UK, seems to have emerged in England and Wales since 2010 to become the dominant cause of Strep A infections. The team add the new strain can be easily treated with antibiotics.

The analysis suggests the new strain has increased in numbers among cases of scarlet fever, throat infections and much rarer invasive infections since 2014. The analysis also revealed the new strain produces more of one type of streptococcal toxin than existing strains - making it potentially more likely to cause common throat infections and scarlet fever, which could account for a rise in invasive infection.


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