Acute Post Streptococcal Glomerulonephritis Outbreak on Thursday Island

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All children and young people on Thursday Island between the ages of 12 months and 17 years are urged to undertake a course of antibiotics to protect them from a highly contagious bacterial skin infection that can lead to kidney disease if left untreated.

Torres and Cape Hospital and Health Service Public Health Medical Officer Dr Allison Hempenstall said eight cases of Acute Post-Streptococcal Glomerulonephritis (APSGN) had been confirmed to date on Thursday Island.

The last outbreaks of APSGN on Thursday Island and in the Torres Strait (Saibai Island) were in 2013.

There have also been outbreaks on Cape York in 2021, 2020 and 2019.

Dr Hempenstall said the most at-risk group for APSGN was children and young people aged between the ages of 12 months and 17 years.

“As such, we will be offering a course of antibiotics to everyone on Thursday Island within that age group in order to minimise the spread of the condition,’’ she said.

Dr Hempenstall said, if untreated, APSGN could lead to more serious problems such as chronic kidney problems, so the condition should never be ignored.

The condition is caused by a Group A Streptococcal bacterial infection, like Strep throat

“Treatment is quite simple, through a course of antibiotics,’’ Dr Hempenstall said.

“Most people make a good recovery.’’

Symptoms to look out for are skin sores, itch from scabies, or a sore throat.

A puffy face and limbs, or sometimes reddish to dark urine, could signal kidney problems.

“Anyone with any concerns, or currently exhibiting symptoms, should visit their local primary health care centre or Thursday Island Hospital,’’ she said.

Dr Hempenstall said residents could prevent skin infections, and kidney complications, in children by first aid for minor injuries and regular washing or swimming.

  • You should wash your hands and body with soap, sleep in a clean bed, wash your sheets and towels regularly and wash and wear clean clothes every day.
  • Children need to be helped to use soap and to wash properly.
  • Please also keep your house and yard clean and dispose of garbage properly.
  • Check for skin sores and possible scabies (itch mites) in family members often.
  • If your child has sores, first aid is washing and soaking off crusts, possibly a mild antiseptic and a clean dry dressing. Cut the fingernails to prevent further broken skin that can also get infected. Then show them to someone at your local health centre.

“As well as controlling the spread of skin infections, good hygiene also is vital in helping ensure kidney complications do not occur in the first place,’’ Dr Hempenstall said.