About Group A Strep
Group A Streptococcus (group A strep, GAS) bacteria can live in a person's nose and throat. The bacteria are spread through contact with droplets from an infected person's cough or sneeze. If you touch your mouth, nose, or eyes after touching something that has these droplets on it, you may become ill. If you drink from the same glass or eat from the same plate as the sick person, you could also become ill. It is also possible for group A strep bacteria to spread from contact with sores from a group A strep skin infection.
Most group A strep infections are relatively mild illnesses such as strep throat, scarlet fever, and impetigo (a skin infection). Occasionally these bacteria can cause severe and even life-threatening diseases.
Severe, sometimes life-threatening, group A strep 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. These infections are termed "invasive group A strep disease." Two of the most severe, but least common, forms of invasive group A strep disease are necrotizing fasciitis and streptococcal toxic shock syndrome.Top of Page
- Page last reviewed: May 1, 2014
- Page last updated: May 1, 2014
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