During 2000, the UK witnessed a sudden increase in severe infections and related deaths in injecting drug users (IDUs), sparking off a UK-wide investigation. A worrying upward trend in severe group A streptococcal (GAS) infections has recently been observed in IDUs based upon isolate referrals to the PHLS Respiratory and Systemic Infection Laboratory. Most cases were young male adults who presented with skin sepsis and bacteraemia. Serotyping revealed a diverse range of M types, with higher types predominating in some geographical areas. The data suggest that GAS invasive soft-tissue infections may present in an epidemic fashion among IDUs in the absence of a common source.


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