Department of Health written question – answered on 26th May 2016.

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Photo of Lord Blencathra Lord Blencathra Conservative

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what warnings and advice they intend to give to the public, in the light of research on the severity of community-onset boils and abscesses in the UK, published in Epidemiology and Infection in December 2014 by Laura Shallcross et al.

Photo of Lord Prior of Brampton Lord Prior of Brampton The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health

Public Health England (PHE) is not planning to launch any new guidance or introduce warnings in light of the study referred to in the question and any public advice now falls within the remit of NHS Choices.

PHE published national guidance for the diagnosis, treatment and management of PVL-positive strains of S Aureus (PVL-SA) infections, an element of this includes the management of skin boils and abscesses caused by PVL-SA. PVL-SA are strains of a bacterium called Staphylococcus aureus that can produce a particular toxin (Panton-Valentine Luekocidin or PVL). Such strains are strongly associated with skin boils and abscesses which can be aggressive and recurrent in nature. A copy of the Guidance on the diagnosis and management of PVL-associated Staphylococcus aureus infections (PVL-SA) in England is attached.

PHE produced two leaflets called Patient Information SheetStaphylococcus aureus and Boils and Skin Infections: Information for the Public advising individuals on boils and abscesses caused by PVL-SA in response to particular “at risk” local environments and scenarios including schools, sporting groups and military recruits. The main advice in these leaflets is information as to where PVL-SA bacteria can be found, the infections it can cause and practical advice on how patients can minimise the risk of transferring the bacteria to others and experiencing repeated infections. Copies of both leaflets are attached.

Guidance on Diagnosis (PDF Document, 2.27 MB)
Boils and skin infection leaflet (PDF Document, 167.25 KB)
PVL Patient Leaflet (PDF Document, 77.91 KB)

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