Illnesses and diseases are often associated with the colder winter months, not the hot summer months. 

But don’t tell that to the hotshot fire crews in Safford fighting the latest wildfire in Arizona.

Over the past week, there has been a significant outbreak of what is calledsd strep throat among the firefighters battling the Frye Fire on Mt. Graham near Safford, and that has led to quarantines of about four dozen firefighters in local health centers. Those who have been diagnosed with the bacterial infection have been taken off the fire lines and separated from the healthy firefighters and will not return to the fire lines until they are cleared and deemed no longer contagious. 

It was reported that about 45 firefighters have come down with strep throat as of Sunday, which was about 15 percent of the overall personnel number of a little more than 300 assigned to the fire. The bacteria is spread through droplets from an infected person coughing or sneezing, and firefighter base camps are often small and personnel are in close proximity to each other when they are not on the line. 

None of the infected firefighters have been sent home, staying in the Safford area for treatment, but officials say that antibiotic treatments have been very effective and there is no expectation of other personnel getting infected due to the successful and aggressive quarantine taken place. There is an incident commander on-site to take care of the strep-throat incident within the Frye Fire incident, as doctors and nurses have been deployed throughout the area to treat the infected.

The Frye Fire reportedly started nearly two weeks ago from a lightning strike and has burned more than 6,300 acres. Containment was last reported at less than 20 percent, but officials say no structures have been impacted and there are no structures threatened currently.

There is a challenge this week, however, as extreme temperatures coupled with very low humidity may contribute to more difficulty getting the fire under control as it moves toward a three-week conflagration.



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