A HEALTH provider says the exact cause of the deadly strep A outbreak in Essex may never been known.

Provide, which runs health services across East Anglia, issued the warning following a Freedom of Information request which revealed the most likely cause of the bacterial infection which has led to 15 deaths was district nurses.

Documents obtained by the BBC reportedly state 29 people who contracted the infection had previously been visited by Provide nurses.

A total of 39 people have been affected so far, with 33 of those cases confirmed.

The Mid Essex Clinical Commissioning Group and Public Health England are continuing their investigation into the outbreak and findings are expected to be announced next spring.

Provide has responded to the Freedom of Information request by saying it has an “excellent” track record for infection prevention and insists it has “robust” systems in place to tackle any problems.

It has pointed to its outstanding rating awarded by the Care Quality Commission which has praised Provide staff for keeping themselves and their equipment clean.

A spokesman said: “Throughout the outbreak, Provide has been working with a multi-disciplinary, multi-organisational incident management team including Public Health England, NHS England and Mid Essex Clinical Commissioning Group experts to identify the cause and minimise spread of this infection.

“The link with our nurses is that they care for people in the community, in their own homes but not all the cases had contact with our teams. To date, no agency has been able to identify the exact cause of the infection or how it is being spread.”