Acute Post Streptococcal Glomerulonephritis update for Thursday Island

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About 75 per cent of children and young people on Thursday Island between the ages of 12 months and 17 years have received a course of antibiotics to minimise the spread of a highly contagious bacterial skin infection that can lead to kidney disease if left untreated.

Torres and Cape Hospital and Health Service Executive Director of Medical Services Dr Marlow Coates said a course of antibiotics was being offered to the target age group following the identification of eight cases of Acute Post-Streptococcal Glomerulonephritis (APSGN) on Thursday Island earlier this month.

“We are offering Bicillin to close contacts of the identified cases and Bactrim as an oral antibiotic to others as a means of minimising the spread of the condition,’’ he said.

“Children and young people aged between the ages of 12 months and 17 years are the most at- risk group for APSGN.

“There are about 1000 people in that target age group on Thursday Island and we have so far successfully provided a course of antibiotics to 75 per cent of that number.

“Given that some of that target age group will actually be away from Thursday Island at boarding school, the percentage treated of those actually on the island will certainly be even higher and is testament to the good work of our public and primary health care teams.

‘We have been working closely with schools on Thursday Island over the past fortnight, as well as going door to door, to offer young people the antibiotic treatment.

“I urge parents to ensure their children receive their course of antibiotics.’’

Dr Coates 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 Coates 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,’’ he said.

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

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

Dr Coates 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 Coates said.