How to Help Prevent the Next UK Outbreak of Strep A

July 10, 2023by Jamie Browning0

Strep A, also known as Streptococcus pyogenes, is a bacteria that can cause a range of infections in humans, from mild conditions like strep throat to severe complications like streptococcal toxic shock syndrome.

In the UK, Strep A has become a significant concern due to its ability to spread rapidly and trigger outbreaks.

To protect public health, it’s crucial for everyone to understand Strep A and take preventive measures to minimise its transmission.

This article aims to provide practical information and valuable cleaning tips to help you effectively reduce the risk of strep infections.

What is Strep A and how does it spread?

Strep A is a bacterium commonly found in the throat and on the skin of individuals. Streptococcal diseases occur when the body becomes infected with strep bacteria, leading to various infections such as strep throat, skin infections, or more serious conditions known as invasive group a streptococcal.

Strep infection can be transmitted through:

  • Respiratory droplets from coughing and sneezing
  • Contact with contaminated objects
  • Direct skin contact

One important thing to note about Strep A is its ability to survive on surfaces for different durations, depending on factors like temperature, humidity, and the type of surface.

By understanding how streptococcal infection spreads and being aware of the potential for surface contamination, you can take appropriate precautions to protect your health and the well-being of those around you.

A man sneezing with droplets coming out from his face

Suggested reading: If you want to find out more check out, What is Strep A: The Ultimate Guide by Ultima Environmental

How can we prevent Strep A from spreading in our communities?

Preventing the spread of strep infections in our communities starts with basic hygiene practices, such as:

  • Thorough hand hygiene: It’s essential to wash your hands regularly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after coughing, sneezing, or being in public spaces. If soap and water are unavailable, you can use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser as an alternative.
  • Respiratory etiquette: When you cough or sneeze, make sure to cover your mouth and nose with a tissue to prevent the spread of respiratory droplets containing Strep A. Dispose of used tissues immediately to minimise the risk of contamination.

How long does Strep A live on surfaces and how can we clean them effectively?

Strep A can survive on various surfaces for different periods. The viability of the bacteria depends on factors like temperature, humidity, and the type of surface.

On hard surfaces like metal or plastic, Strep A can potentially survive for up to 48 hours. However, on porous surfaces like fabric or paper, it may not survive as long. Nevertheless, it’s important to note that Strep A can still pose a risk on these surfaces, especially if they come into direct contact with an infected individual.

Strep A cleaning tips

  • Use an appropriate disinfectant:Look for disinfectants that are specifically effective against Strep A. Common options include those containing bleach and hydrogen peroxide. Always follow the instructions on the product label.
  • Allow sufficient contact time: Disinfectants require different contact times to kill bacteria. Make sure you leave the disinfectant on the surface for the recommended duration, which typically ranges from a few minutes to several minutes.
  • Clean high-touch surfaces regularly: It’s recommended to clean surfaces like doorknobs, countertops, and light switches at least once a day during a Strep A outbreak. Use a high quality disinfectant such as Byotrol.
  • Wear personal protective equipment (PPE): When cleaning up after someone with Strep A or handling potentially contaminated materials, it’s advisable to wear disposable gloves to minimise direct contact. Remember to discard the gloves properly after use and wash your hands thoroughly.
  • Repeat the cleaning process if necessary: If you’re unsure about the effectiveness of the initial cleaning, it’s advisable to repeat the process. This provides an extra layer of assurance that the surface has been adequately disinfected.

By following these cleaning tips, you can significantly reduce the survival of Strep A on various surfaces, creating safer environments for yourself and others

Should I try to clean Strep A at work by myself?

While you might be tempted to clean up Strep A contamination on your own, it is important to understand that this task carries serious health risks if proper precautions are not taken.

Fortunately, there are professional cleaning services available to handle such situations safely and effectively.

Here are three reasons why it’s best to leave Strep A clean-up to the professionals:

  1. Health risks: Strep A can cause various infections, ranging from mild to fatal. Direct contact with contaminated materials or surfaces without proper protection increases the risk of contracting a Strep A infection.
  2. Inadequate disinfection: Strep A can be challenging to eliminate completely without proper knowledge and specialist cleaning equipment. Professional cleaning services have the necessary training, experience, and access to effective disinfectants to ensure thorough disinfection.
  3. Compliance with regulations: There are specific regulations and guidelines governing the handling and cleanup of biohazardous materials, including Strep A. Professional cleaning services are well-versed in these regulations and can ensure compliance, minimising legal and regulatory risks.

What measures can be taken to prevent a Strep A outbreak in the UK?

Preventing a Strep A outbreak in the UK requires a multi-faceted approach involving public awareness, targeted precautions in communal settings, and the active involvement of healthcare providers.

Public awareness and education

It’s crucial to increase public awareness about Strep A, how it spreads, and what preventive measures people can take.

Public health campaigns can help individuals understand the importance of good hygiene practices, covering their mouth when coughing or sneezing, and seeking medical attention early if they have symptoms.

Precautions in communal settings

In schools, care homes, and other shared spaces, specific precautions should be taken to prevent the spread of Strep A. These measures may include promoting good hygiene practices, regular cleaning and disinfection, isolation and exclusion policies, and even vaccination programs.

Role of healthcare providers

Healthcare providers have a vital role to play in detecting, diagnosing, and treating Strep A infections. They should be vigilant in identifying cases, performing appropriate diagnostic tests, and providing prompt treatment with antibiotics.

Catching Strep A early can help reduce the duration and severity of the illness and limit its spread.

Cute likable mixed race teen girl having throat examination with tongue depressor

Final thoughts

Preventing the next Strep A outbreak in the UK is a team effort. By implementing these preventive strategies, we can all actively contribute to stopping the occurrence and spread of Strep A outbreaks.

It’s important to note that while thorough cleaning and disinfection are crucial, they can’t guarantee 100% elimination of all bacteria. However, following these guidelines can significantly reduce the risk of Strep A transmission.

What should I do if I have symptoms of Strep A?

If you’re experiencing symptoms of a Strep A infection, it’s recommended that you get in touch with NHS 111 or your GP surgery for advice. Avoid visiting your GP surgery or local hospital to minimise the risk of spreading the infection to others.

You can visit the NHS website for more information on Strep A and what to do if you have symptoms of an infection.

Concerned about Strep A? Get in touch to arrange specialist infection control

At Ultima, we offer professional disease control services for Strep A, Norovirus, Avian Flu, and Covid-19. Our biohazard cleaners have more than 20 years of experience and will ensure that infectious pathogens are eliminated quickly, effectively, and discretely.

Feel free to get in touch with us to learn more about our Strep A infection control service or visit our website to explore our complete range of specialist cleaning services.

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