The ongoing Streptococcus pyogenes (Group A Streptococcus) outbreak in London, United Kingdom in December 2022: a molecular epidemiology study.

Adela Alcolea-Medina, Luke Blagdon Snell, Christopher Alder, Themoula Charalampous, Tom G.S. Williams, Mark Tan, Noor Al-Yaakoubi, Gul Humayun, William Newsholme , Simon Goldenberg, Gaia Nebbia, Stuart Neil, Rahul Batra, Jonathan Edgeworth

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19 Citations (Scopus)
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Objectives: Epidemiological and whole-genome sequencing analysis of an ongoing outbreak of Streptococcus pyogenes (Group A Streptococcus) in London (United Kingdom). Methods: Prospective identification of Group A Streptococcus cases from a diagnostic laboratory serving central and south London between 27 November and 10 December 2022. Case notes were reviewed and isolates were retrieved. Case numbers were compared with the previous 5 years. Whole-genome sequencing was performed with long-read, nanopore technology for emm typing and identification of superantigen genes. Associations of pathogen-related factors with an invasive disease were assessed by single-variable and multi-variable logistic regression. Results: Case numbers began increasing in October 2022 from a baseline of 2.0 cases per day, and in December 2022, the average daily case numbers reached 10.8 cases per day, four-fold the number usually seen in winter. A total of 113 cases were identified during the prospective study period. Three quarters (86/113, 76%) were paediatric cases, including 2 deaths. Of 113 cases, 11 (10%) were invasive. In total, 56 isolates were successfully sequenced, including 10 of 11 (91%) invasive isolates. The emm12 (33/56, 59%) and emm1 (9/56, 16%) types were predominant, with 7 of 9 (78%) emm1 isolates being from the M1uk clone. The majority of invasive isolates had superantigen genes spea (7/10, 70%) and spej (8/10, 80%), whereas, in non-invasive isolates, these superantigen genes were found less frequently (spea: 5/46, 11% and spej: 7/46, 15%). By multivariable analysis of pathogen-related factors, spea (OR 8.9, CI 1.4–57, p 0.020) and spej (OR 12, CI 1.8–78, p 0.011) were associated with invasive disease. Conclusions: emm12 and emm1 types predominate in the ongoing outbreak, which mainly affects children. In this outbreak, the spea and spej superantigen genes are associated with the severity of presentation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)887-890
Number of pages4
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 15 Mar 2023


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