Streptococcus

Brooke Savage

What is group A streptococcus? (GAS)

Group A streptococcus is a bacteria usually found in the throat and on the skin. These are usually mild illnesses like strep throat. Occasionally these bacteria can cause severe and even life-threatening diseases.

How is Group A Streptococcus spread?

It is spread through direct contact with mucus from the nose or throat of persons who are infected or through contact with infected wounds or sores on the skin. It is not likely that household objects can spread it; like plates, toys, etc.

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Frequency

About 9,000-11,500 cases of invasive streptococcus disease occur each year in the United States, resulting in 1,000-1,800 deaths annually. Several million cases of strep throat occur in the US yearly. Few people who come in contact with the bacteria will get it. Most people will have a skin or throat infection. People with chronic illnesses like cancer, diabetes, and chronic heart or lung disease, and those who use medications such as steroids have a higher risk. Persons with skin lesions (such as cuts, chicken pox, surgical wounds), the elderly, and adults with a history of alcohol abuse or injection drug use also have a higher risk for disease.

How does it occur?

Infection occur when the bacteria get past the defenses of the person who is infected. This may occur when a person has sores or other breaks in the skin that allow the bacteria to get into the tissue, or when the person’s ability to fight off the infection is decreased because of chronic illness or an illness that affects the immune system.

Signs/Symptoms

Fever, Dizziness, Flu like syndrome, Confusion, A flat red rash over large areas of the body (only occurs in 10% of cases).

Complications

Severe, sometimes life-threatening, GAS disease may occur when bacteria get into parts of the body where bacteria usually are not found, such as the blood, muscle, or the lungs. Two of the most severe, but least common, forms of invasive GAS disease are necrotizing fasciitis and Streptococcal Toxic Shock Syndrome. Necrotizing fasciitis (occasionally called "the flesh-eating bacteria") destroys muscles, fat, and skin tissue. Streptococcal toxic shock syndrome (STSS), causes blood pressure to drop rapidly and organs (kidney, liver, lungs) to fail.

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Group B streptococcous

GBS is commonly found in the human body, and it usually does not cause any symptoms. However, in certain cases, it can be a dangerous cause of various infections that can affect nonpregnant adults, pregnant women, and their newborn infants. Group B strep infection is the most common cause of sepsis and meningitis in the United States during a newborn's first week of life. People with diabetes and other chronic illnesses are also likely to get Group B streptococcus.