Group A streptococcus (or group A strep) is a type of bacterium (germ) that commonly lives on our skin or in our nose and throat. Many of us carry this bacteria but never become ill. Strep A infections vary in severity from very mild - such as throat infections - to severe such as pneumonia, but fortunately most can be treated with antibiotics.
Many people carry group A Strep without realising it - it causes no problems and they remain well and don’t develop any illness. It can be passed from person to person by close contact with someone who has Strep A such as by kissing or from skin to skin contact. Strep A can also sometimes be spread through food if someone infected with group A strep prepares or serves food which is then shared.
Although most people exposed to Strep A have either no symptoms or mild ones, you’re more likely to be at risk from it if you:
Fortunately for most people, being in contact with Strep A either doesn’t cause any symptoms or only a mild illness. The usual mild illnesses include:
More severe illnesses linked to Strep A are called invasive group A Strep (IGAS), where deeper tissues or organs are infected. These include:
pneumonia - a lung infection causing breathing difficulties, cough and a high temperature
meningitis - a potentially fatal infection of the fluid that surrounds the brain, causing headache, neck pain and stiffness, fever and confusion
necrotizing fasciitis - a severe skin and muscle infection where there is a high temperature and skin pain, and potentially destruction of skin and tissue.
Streptococcal Toxic Shock Syndrome (STSS). This is a blood infection that can cause fever, confusion, abdominal pain, and a rash. It can cause failure of the kidneys, liver and lungs.
It’s usually diagnosed by taking a swab of affected tissue or saliva and checking it for the presence of Strep A. You can also have a blood test to see if your immune system has produced certain antibodies in response to a strep A infection. If a more serious invasive Strep A infection is a possibility, you can also have blood tests to see if you have the bacteria in your blood.
Fortunately, most minor strep A infections usually get better on their own after a few days without needing any medical treatment. To help relieve any symptoms while this is happening you can take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as paracetamol and ibuprofen to help reduce a high temperature and discomfort. (Aspirin should not be given to children aged under 16 because of the risk of Reyes’ syndrome.) If you have a skin infection this may require treatment with antibiotic tablets or creams and if you have a ‘strep throat’ stay home from work or school until after you have taken antibiotics for 24 hours as this reduces the chance of you giving the infection to someone else. Always take any prescribed antibiotics as directed.
If you have strep throat you’re not fit for work.
We recognise that monitoring an unwell child's temperature is important, especially with a lot of winter infections going around.
This is why for a limited time, we are giving away a FREE MediSure Digital Thermometer Device while stocks last, including free delivery!!! (Usual price is £5.49).
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Please note this free offer is limited to one per household, and is available while stocks last
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MediSure digital thermometer offers a fast 1-minute reading, dependable accuracy +/- 0.2*F and a digital easy read screen.
What's in the box?
Your doctor may prescribe antibiotics for a strep throat, but your pharmacist may also suggest some other things to help improve your symptoms whilst you're getting back to normal. These could include;;
Contact your doctor urgently or go to your nearest emergency centre if your child:
Because strep A is spread by close contact - such as from skin-to-skin contact or from inhaling infected breathing or sneezing droplets from someone else - there are ways of helping to reduce this risk;
Read more about Strep A related topics:
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