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About Group A Strep

Physician examining patient

Group A Streptococcus (group A strep) are bacteria that 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 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).

Serious, 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." Group A strep infection can also sometimes lead to sepsis, the body’s overwhelming and life-threatening response to infection that can cause tissue damage, organ failure, and death. Two of the most serious, but least common, forms of invasive group A strep disease are necrotizing fasciitis and streptococcal toxic shock syndrome.

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