streptococcus pyogenes, a bacteria
--Victim under attack--
Body system it attacks
Streptococcus pyogenes attacks the integumentary system and the respiratory system by targeting and affecting the skin and the throat. It is often known as the "flesh-eating bacteria" because of how it attacks the skin.
Different types of infections
Streptococcus pyogenes causes many different infections that range from mild to severe. Mild infections that can occur include strep throat and impetigo. Severe infections include necrotizing fasciitis and streptococcal toxic shock syndrome. Other infections that may occur include erysipelas, cellulitis, scarlet fever and rheumatic fever.
How is it transmitted?
Streptococcus pyogenes is spread by direct contact of the mucus or skin of an infected person. It can also be spread through respiratory droplets. Without being near an infected person, it can be spread through contaminated food sources (meat, milk, eggs, lettuce, etc).
Who is most at risk?
Younger children and elderly people are more likely to develop worse infections from streptococcus pyogenes. People who have cancer, diabetes, kidney failure, or other serious complications also have an increased risk for being affected by streptococcus pyogenes.
What types of workers have been exposed?
Streptococcus pyogenes is transmitted by contact or respiratory droplets of an infected person. So, medical workers who are around infected patients are usually more exposed than any other type of worker.
It can also be given to humans through cattle, so farm/cattle workers may be infected also.
Injury to victim
Symptoms of streptococcus pyogenes all depend on the type of infection you have. Strep throat involves a painful, red throat with white patches on the tonsils. Scarlet fever is characterized by a big, red rash that starts on the chest and spreads to other parts of the body. Impetigo causes crusty and itchy sores that form on the mouth and are highly contagious so it could spread throughout the whole body. Cellulitis is an inflammation of the skin that causes the infected area redness, pain, swelling, and tenderness. Necrotizing fasciitis is very rare but very dangerous and causes extensive tissue damage that can spread very deep (flesh-eating disease). Finally, the toxic shock syndrome is a very serious disease that causes pain, swelling, redness, fever, dizziness, difficulty breathing, low blood pressure, and a changing pulse.
Damage done to the body
If any of the infections are left untreated, they will worsen and lead to serious damage. Tissue damage can spread very deep and can lead to the loss of the infected body parts. Necrotizing fasciitis and toxic shock syndrome are the two that have the highest mortality rates so they can lead to death.
Where can it be found?
The bacteria can be found in contaminated food sources such as meat, eggs, lettuce, etc. It can be given to humans from cattle (even though cattle don't contract the diseases that humans do). And then you can also obviously come in contact with it by touching an infected individual.
Ways to defend yourself
Staying away from infected individuals is the best way to defend yourself. Maintaining good health and hygiene (washing your hands, staying clean) will also limit your chances of getting a bad disease.
You can prevent the spreading of streptococcus pyogenes mainly by good hand washing, especially after coughing, sneezing, preparing food, etc. Keeping your wounds clean helps also and it is best to seek medical treatment as soon as you see signs of any disease so that they do not worsen and become extremely harmful.
Treatment varies for the type of disease you get. The mild forms- strep throat and impetigo- are usually treated with antibiotics like penicillin. Serious forms- necrotizing fasciitis and toxic shock syndrome- usually require surgery to remove the bacteria and fix the wounds. Different medications are used to stop the symptoms of the diseases from worsening.