Streptococcal infections are caused by a bacterium specifically known as Group A Streptococcus. The most common form of infection caused by this specific microorganism is the Strep Throat. However, certain conditions may arise due to the invasion of this pathogen.
These illnesses include skin infections, flesh eating disease or necrotizing fasciitis, toxic shock syndrome and multisystem infections that affect the lungs, bones and abdomen.
Strep throat is the most usual among the other kinds of streptococcal infections. It could affect people from various age groups.
Streptococcal pharyngitis or strep throat is characterized by swollen tonsils with white patches. A person who has this condition may have bouts of fever, inflamed lymph nodes, as well as headache.
For adults, the symptoms may be milder. However, in smaller children, abdominal pain accompanied by nausea and vomiting may manifest.
The mode of transmission of this disease is through direct contact with salivary and nasal discharges from an infected person. There have been cases that contaminated food products such as milk also transmitted the infection.
Casual contact with infected persons does not prove efficient when it comes to the spread of infection. More often, crowded places such as schools, health facilities and institutions facilitate the spread of the bacteria at a fast pace. After being exposed to the germs, one could get the infection in as early as 3 days.
When one is already infected, it could be passed to others for up to 3 weeks. Other persons may not have the symptoms of streptococcal infections but may carry the bacteria. Once antibiotic treatment has commenced, a person is considered non-contagious after 24 hours.
If allowed to go on without treatment, strep throat may develop into more complex forms of streptococcal infections. In particular, it could result to rheumatic fever and PSGN or post-streptococcal glomerulonephritis. If there is no antibiotic treatment given, the bacteria usually circulate through the blood stream and spread in other body systems. In about 18 days after a bout of strep throat, joint pain and heart disease may manifest.
Cellulitis is characterized by an onset of fever, swollen lymph nodes and pain on the affected area. More often, it develops into a blister. Erysipelas, on the other hand, is seen as a red rash with raised borders which could occur on one’s legs, arms or face. Both of these streptococcal infections begin as bruises and then develop further into a full-blown infection.
Even if someone has no symptoms, the bacteria could still be carried and transmitted to other through contaminated discharges.
Another complication of strep throat is the scarlet fever. This kind of condition is characterized by the basic symptoms of strep throat accompanied by red rashes on the chest and abdomen and may spread to other parts of the body.
The rashes usually appear as red points with rough texture. Along with these, a person who has a scarlet fever may develop a strawberry-red tongue and flushed face.
Some forms of severe streptococcal infections may come in the form of blood stream infections and multi-organ infections. If allowed to go on without treatment, it could lead to multi-organ failure, sepsis, shock, and eventually, death.
In order to avoid the complications of streptococcal infections, one must be aware of the mentioned signs and symptoms. In addition, finishing the course of antibiotic therapy decreases the incidence of drug-resistant infections.