A MUM was treated for a potentially fatal disease on the maternity ward at Southend Hospital, it has been revealed.

The case emerged as it was revealed 12 people died following 32 cases of a bacterial infection in mid Essex.

The area’s Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) confirmed there have been 32 cases of the Invasive Group A Streptococcal (iGAS) infection.

However, Southend Hospital was unable to confirm whether the additional maternity ward case was the same invasive strain of the bacteria.

A spokesman said: “We can confirm that a patient was treated for a group A streptococcal infection and that standard infection prevention measures were taken.”

The spokesperson could not elaborate on the “prevention measures”. The majority of the 32 cases are said to have occurred in the Braintree area, but there has also been one case in Basildon and one case in Southend. Both were non-fatal and the CCG described these as “isolated”. Details of the outbreak were revealed in Mid Essex CCG board papers.

The report states: “Group A streptococcus (iGAS) can be found in the throat and on the skin and people may carry GAS in the throat or on the skin and have no symptoms of illness. It can live for long enough to allow easy spread between people through sneezing, kissing and skin contact.

"Life-threatening iGAS disease may occur when bacteria get into parts of the body where bacteria usually are not found, such as the blood, muscle, or the lungs.”

An incident management team has now been set up to control the outbreak and monitor the situation. A cause of the spread has not yet been identified.

Rachel Hearn, director of nursing and quality, of Mid Essex CCG said: “Our thoughts are with the families of those who have died. We are working closely with Public Health England and other partners to manage this incident, and extra infection control measures have been put in place to prevent the infection spreading in the area.

“The risk of contracting iGAS is very low for the vast majority of people and treatment with antibiotics is very effective if started early. We will continue to work with Public Health England to investigate how this outbreak occurred and take every possible step to ensure our local community is protected.”