Press Release issued by the City of Midland
The Midland Health Department and Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) have informed hospitals, physicians, long-term care facilities, and others of a cluster of invasive Group A Streptococcal cases (GAS) under investigation in Midland County. Query of both the region and state do not indicate an unusual number of reported cases other than in Midland. So far, the investigation does not suggest a common link among those infected.
The Health Department recently learned of 34 cases of GAS disease reported since December 1, 2007. Investigation so far reveals that eight to ten of these reported cases qualify as "invasive." Nevertheless, four of the cases have resulted in fatalities; the remaining patients have recovered or are recovering. Texas averages approximately 263 GAS cases anually as of 2006.
Streptococcus pyogenes, the causative baterium, appears to reside in the throats and nasal passages of 15 percent of the United States population. Infections caused by a Group A Streptococcus usually take the form of "strep throat." Strep A infection is not an airborne illness; transmission occurs by contact or large droplet. Invasive Streptococcal disease rarely begins as strep throat. Instead, the bacteria enters the bloodstream and cause toxic shock syndrome, necrotizing fasciitis, organ failure, and other life-threatening conditions. Even these serious infections can be treated successfully with antibiotics if treatment begins soon enough.
Precautions for the public:
- Anyone taking an antibiotic should follow prescription orders completely, taking the medication as directed and until it is gone;
- As always, practice good personal hygiene by not sharing toothbrushes or drinking and eating utensils and by practicing good respiratory hygiene. Cover mouth and nose with tissue when coughing or sneezing, dispose of the tissue and wash hands; and
- Remember that hand washing with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer remains the best method to control communicable diseases