Preventing Streptococcal Infections with Proper Cleaning Protocols
Guidance on the workplace prevention of scarlet fever and other infections associated with Strep A bacteria from Reckitt brand, Dettol Pro Solutions.
Group A Streptococcus (GAS), also known as Strep A, are a common type of bacteria found on the skin or in the throat which, under certain circumstances, can cause disease. GAS infections often present as a mild sore throat (‘strep throat’) and skin/soft tissue infections such as impetigo and cellulitis1.
The latest data from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) shows scarlet fever and other GAS infections remain high – there have been 37,060 notifications in England of scarlet fever this season (from 12 September to 8 January)2, and 1,539 of the more serious Invasive Group A Strep (iGAS) cases, although these remain rare. Notably, a total of 4,622 notifications of scarlet fever were reported from weeks 37 to 46 of the current season (2022/23), with 851 notifications received in week 46. This indicates a 357% increase3 when compared with an average of 1,294 (range 258 to 2,008) for this same period (weeks 37 to 46) during the previous five years.
Dr Lisa Ackerley, Director of Medical and Scientific Engagement (hygiene) at Reckitt, says: “We acknowledge the public’s concern around the increased number of Strep A infections, which are currently higher than we see in a typical year; we continue to play our part to help families, businesses and organisations reduce the spread of this and other respiratory infections.
“As Group A Strep infections, including scarlet fever, continue to circulate at high levels, we must all contribute to implementing and sticking to effective hygiene behaviour to mitigate transmission.”
GAS bacteria are contagious and are typically spread to others through respiratory droplets and direct contact; those who are infected spread the bacteria by talking, coughing or sneezing, which creates infectious respiratory droplets4.
To prevent GAS infections, businesses should encourage staff and customers to:
- Cover their mouths and noses with a tissue when they cough or sneeze
- Put used tissues in the waste bin
- Cough or sneeze into the upper sleeve or elbow, not the hands, if a tissue is not available
- Wash hands at key moments such as after coughing or sneezing and on arriving at work or home, with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
- Use an alcohol-based hand rub if soap and water are not available
- If hot desking takes place at work, ensure staff have the means to disinfect their work areas on arrival
- Shared items such as crockery and cutlery should be washed hygienically, preferably in a dishwasher.
Stuart Bainbridge, R&D Director Reckitt Pro, adds: “Focusing cleaning and disinfecting efforts to high-touch surfaces in high-traffic areas and disinfecting frequently can help break the chain of infection4.
“We’re keen to help businesses overcome these hygiene challenges faced at the moment.”
The Dettol Pro Solutions team which includes in-house virologists, microbiologists and medical scientists, was launched in the UK last year as part of Reckitt’s “better results for healthier businesses programme” to support the development of science-backed training materials and targeted hygiene protocols for different business sectors such as hospitality, food service, offices, and retail.
1 NHS inform, 2022:
2 UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), 2023
3 World Health Organisation, 2023
4 GOV.UK, 2023
5 NHS UK, 2023