What is Strep A Infection?
Strep A Infection; Group A are diseases caused by bacteria called Streptococcus (also called GAS for short). These diseases are very diverse; Some may be mild and easily treated, while others may be more serious. As with every disease, it is easier to prevent Strep A infections by taking precautions before they become infected than to treat the disease.
How is Strep A Infection Transmitted?
In infections caused by Group A Streptococcus bacteria, the bacteria can be transmitted to the body in different ways through breathing or direct contact. Knowing the ways of transmission helps protect from the disease. Persons;
- By inhaling respiratory droplets containing bacteria,
- By touching the mouth or nose after touching a surface with droplets on it,
- By using the cup used by a person infected with group A strep bacteria or eating from the plate from which they ate,
- They can catch the disease through direct contact.
This disease can also spread when the wounds on their skin become infected with group A strep bacteria, which is a different way of transmission than those listed above. People can also become ill by touching skin sores caused by group A strep bacteria or by coming into contact with fluid from the sores.
What are the symptoms of Strep A Infection?
It is important to know the diagnosis of Strep A Infections and the symptoms associated with the disease so that healthy people can avoid this disease. People with Strep A Infection may not always show symptoms; But this does not mean that they will not transmit diseases. Patients with sore throat symptoms are generally more likely to be infected with Group A Streptococcus than those without symptoms. Common symptoms of Strep A infections include:
- Flu-like symptoms such as high fever, swollen lymph nodes or widespread pain throughout the body,
- Sore throat (strep infection or tonsillitis in the throat)
- Rough skin rashes (Scarlet fever)
- Sores on the skin (impetigo)
- Skin pain and swelling (cellulitis)
- Severe muscle aches
- Nausea and vomiting
Strep A infections are more common in children than in adults; but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t pose a risk to adults. For this reason, if someone around you has these symptoms, precautions should be taken for everyone, whether a child or an adult, to protect themselves from the disease. The majority of Strep A infections are not serious and can be treated with antibiotics; But rarely, infection can cause serious problems. Invasive group A streptococci (iGAS for short) are the group of bacteria that causes this.
What are Strep A Infections?
Group A Streptococcus bacteria can cause a wide variety of skin, soft tissue, and respiratory infections, ranging in severity from mild to life-threatening. These can be listed as follows:
- Sore throat,
- Scarlet fever (bacterial infection, often with red spots, often in children)
- Impetigo (a shallow skin infection that often affects children),
- Erysipelas (a type of cellulitis),
- Cellulitis (a type of bacterial infection that affects the skin),
In some rare cases, patients may develop post-streptococcal complications such as:
- rheumatic fever
- Glomerulonephritis (heart and kidney diseases caused by an immune reaction to bacteria)
- IGAS (Invasive group A streptococcus) infections
Infections caused by Group A Streptococcus bacteria can very rarely predispose to more serious infections known as IGAS (invasive group A Streptococcus) infections. IGAS infections include:
- Bacteremia (bloodstream infection)
- Septic arthritis (a joint infection usually caused by bacteria)
- Meningitis (inflammation of the meninges)
- Necrotizing fasciitis (a serious infection that involves the death of areas of soft tissue under the skin)
- Streptococcal toxic shock syndrome (a systemic syndrome with rapidly progressive symptoms resulting in low blood pressure and multiple organ failure)
IGAS infections usually occur in the elderly, children (5-15 years old), or people with risk factors such as injecting drug use, alcoholism, suppressed immune system, or cancer.
Diagnosis of Strep A Infection
Detection of this infection in people with symptoms of Strep A infection can be done in two different ways. The first of these is throat culture, which is performed by taking a swab from the throat and gives accurate results. The time taken for this method is on average 24-48 hours, after which the results appear. Although throat culture gives definitive results, it takes a long time, so the Strep A Test can be used as a quick alternative.
What is Strep A Testing?
A Strep A test is a type of rapid antigen test. Antigen tests; They are easily applied and interpreted diagnostic tests based on antigen-antibody reactions. It is possible to get results in a short time with this test; but it may not always be reliable. A person may test negative for Strep A even though he or she is sick. In order to get accurate results from this test, performing it together with a throat culture gives the best results. It takes time for a throat culture to see whether Group A strep bacteria have grown from the swab. During this process, a throat culture can sometimes catch infections that the rapid antigen test misses.
Culture is necessary because untreated Strep A throat infection in children and teenagers can cause rheumatic fever. In adults, a throat culture is not usually necessary after a negative rapid antigen test; Because, unlike children, adults are generally not at risk of developing rheumatic fever following a strep throat infection.
However, if you have symptoms of Strep A infection despite a negative rapid antigen test result, your doctor may want to perform a throat culture. In the diagnosis and treatment of Strep A infection, as in every infection, you may consider consulting a healthcare institution to minimize contagion and avoid worse diseases that may occur.
Strep A Infection Treatment
Most Group A Streptococcal infections are relatively mild illnesses that resolve on their own without the need for antibiotics. Often symptoms that resemble Strep A infections, such as sore throat, are caused by viruses rather than GAS bacteria. If you or your child has a runny nose and sore throat, the infection is likely caused by a virus. Sore throats caused by viruses do not need to be treated with antibiotics unless there are concerns about complications. Be sure to consult a physician before using antibiotics. Your doctor may consider antibiotics if he or she thinks you or your child need medication to get better or relieve your symptoms, or if your child is at risk for serious complications from a Strep A infection or if you or your child has scarlet fever. If you have symptoms such as sore throat or fever, it would be good for your health to consult the nearest health institution.
Strep A Infection Prevention Methods
As with every disease, it is easier and healthier to take precautions for Strep A infections before contracting the disease. Group A Streptococcus spreads through close person-to-person contact, respiratory droplets (moisture from your breath), and direct skin contact. Here’s what you can do to help reduce the risk of catching or spreading infection:
- Washing your hands properly with soap for 20 seconds,
- Using disposable tissues for coughing and sneezing and washing hands afterwards,
- staying away from others when you don’t feel well
- Avoid sharing contaminated food, utensils, glasses, baths, linens or towels.
- Strep A infection can be a secondary infection that develops in people who already have illnesses such as influenza. Therefore, getting a flu vaccine and complying with COVID-19 precautions will prevent this.
However, people in the risk group are more likely to contract Strep A infection. Located in crowded environments such as schools, kindergartens, military barracks; The elderly, children, and people with compromised immune systems are at risk for Strep A.
If you have symptoms related to Strep A, be sure to contact your nearest healthcare provider.