What is group A strep? strep a

Group A Streptococcus is a type of bacteria that can live in a person’s nose and throat. Most Group A Strep infections are mild illnesses such as strep throat or impetigo.

How is group A strep spread?

Group A strep is spread when somebody comes into contact with the mucus from an infected person. In some cases, a person can be infected but show no symptoms while still spreading the bacteria. However, most people who spread group A strep have an illness. It is unlikely for the disease to spread by touching contaminated items, such as toys, but the disease can spread if an infected person shares a cup or eating utensils with a healthy person.

What complications are associated with group A strep?

Most Group A Strep infections are typically mild diseases such as strep throat, scarlet fever, or impetigo. In rare cases, group A strep can enter the blood, muscles, or lungs and cause serious, and sometimes fatal, infections called invasive group A strep disease. Two forms of invasive group A strep disease include necrotizing fasciitis and streptococcal toxic shock syndrome (STSS).

How common is invasive group A strep disease?

While there are millions of cases of mild group A strep illnesses each year, invasive group A strep disease is less common. There are approximately 9,000-11,500 cases of invasive group A strep each year, with approximately 1,000-1,800 deaths associated with the disease. Necrotizing fasciitis and STSS make up about 6-7 out of 100 of invasive group A strep disease cases.

Who is most at risk for getting invasive group A strep infections?

Most people who come into contact with group A strep will experience mild or no symptoms. However, there are some people who are more at risk for developing a severe form of group A strep infections. These people include:

  • Cancer patients
  • People with diabetes
  • People with chronic heart or lung disease
  • Those who use certain medications, such as steroids
  • People with skin legions
  • Elderly adults
  • Adults with a history of alcohol abuse or injection drug use

How can I prevent getting group A strep?

Group A strep can be prevented by practicing good handwashing techniques, especially after sneezing or coughing and before eating or touching food. People with sore throats should visit their doctor to confirm they do not have strep throat. Wounds should be kept clean and watched for signs of infection.

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