Invasive strep outbreak claims lives of 4 Alaskans

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Four Alaskans have died this year in an outbreak of invasive strep bacteria that has mostly affected the homeless and Alaska Natives in the state’s two largest cities.

State epidemiologist Joe McLaughlin says there have been 28 confirmed hospitalization cases of a new strain of Group A Streptococcus bacteria, starting with 10 cases in Fairbanks and, more recently, 18 cases in Anchorage. Two of the deaths occurred in Fairbanks and two in Anchorage.

Another three probable cases in Anchorage have not been confirmed.

All four of the deaths were of Alaska Natives. McLaughlin says studies have shown that American Indians and Alaska Natives are at increased risk of invasive disease, where bacteria moves into normally sterile parts of the body.

It’s the first time the strain was identified in Alaska.

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