The NHS Mid Essex Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has provided an update on the latest information following the Group A Streptococcus (Igas) outbreak across the county.

In total, 13 people have died from the infection, with 32 cases confirmed and three further probable cases noted.

On Tuesday, August 6, the CCG have confirmed that the two cases in west Essex were part of the outbreak discovered in mid Essex.

The infection is believed to have started in Braintree, with cases also being found in Chelmsford and Maldon.

They say the patients affected are older people in the Braintree District and the neighbouring area in west Essex, Chelmsford city and the Maldon district.

The statement released by Mid Essex CCG said: “As part of the investigation, Public Health England has undertaken Whole Genome Sequencing of the GAS bacteria found in patients within the outbreak.

“Since the two cases in west Essex were identified, samples from these cases were analysed to check if they were part of this outbreak and this process has confirmed that they are linked to the outbreak in mid Essex.

“Whole Genome Sequencing is used within a Public Health laboratory setting to investigate differences and similarities in the DNA sequence of bacteria.

“This method allows Public Health England to check which iGAS cases are genetically linked and which are not.

“This is done by analysing the DNA sequence of each bacterial sample collected from patients within this outbreak.”

The majority of patients were receiving treatment for wounds, with some in care home but most in their own homes.

This update provides the latest information on the invasive Group A Streptococcus (iGAS) outbreak in mid and west Essex.

Group A strep bacteria can cause infections which range from minor illnesses to deadly diseases.

The illness usually displays no symptoms but can be found in the throat and on the skin.

The local Freephone helpline number, 03000 032124, is open Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm, for anyone with concerns about iGAS infection.

The helpline is now being answered by colleagues at Essex County Council who are supporting Mid Essex CCG and West Essex CCG with answering questions.