Streptococcal Infections: Symptoms, Treatment

Overview

Streptococcal infections are any type of infection caused by the streptococcal, or “strep” group of bacteria. There are various streptococci, causing symptoms ranging from a mild throat infection to a life-threatening infection of the blood or organs. Streptococcal infections are divided into several groups, including Group A streptococcus, Group B streptococcus, Group C streptococcus, and Group G streptococcus.

Anyone can be affected, from babies and small children to older adults.
Cases are most common in adults older than 75. Most strep infections can be treated with antibiotics, but severe infections can be fatal.

Types

There are different types of streptococcal infections:

  • Group A Streptococcal Infections.

It is the most common subtype. Group A strep is often found on the surface of the skin and inside the throat and a common cause of infection in adults and children. Many strains live naturally in humans and cause no symptoms.

  • Group B Streptococcal Infections.

Group B strep is a type of bacteria that can cause illness in people of all ages, though it can be particularly severe in newborns. It most commonly causes sepsis, pneumonia, and meningitis.

  • Group C and G Streptococcal Infections.

Group C and G strep infections are rarely known because the bacteria are far less common. Group C and G strep most commonly live in animals such as horses and cattle. They can spread to humans through raw milk or contact with these animals. The bacteria can live in people’s throats and on human skin, particularly in areas affected by conditions like eczema, or on mucous surfaces such as the vagina or bowel.

Causes

The main cause of streptococcal infections is the “strep” group of bacteria. The bacteria can be spread in several ways. If the bacteria manage to penetrate deeper inside the body, more severe infections can occur. Some common risk factors that lead to streptococcal infections include:

  • Chicken pox infection
  • Cellulitis
  • Diabetes
  • Blood vessel disease
  • Immune suppression
  • Cancer
  • Steroid treatments
  • Chemotherapy
  • Burn victims
  • Use of intravenous drug

Symptoms

The symptoms of streptococcal infections will depend on the type of infection you have. Generally, strep A infections only cause mild symptoms. Strep B infections usually only affect newborn babies, but it can spread quickly and cause serious infections. There are some common symptoms:

  • Impetigo. (Red sores or blisters, usually around the nose and mouth or on the arms, trunk or legs)
  • Cellulitis. (Red, painful, hot, swollen and tender skin with blisters)
  • Sore throat
  • Fever
  • Swollen glands in the neck
  • Swollen tonsils
  • Soft tissue infection
  • Sinusitis
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Severe earache
  • Vomiting
  • Chills
  • Myalgia (Muscle pain)
  • Diarrhea
  • Oliguria (Decreased output of urine)

Diagnosis

To diagnose streptococcal infections, the doctors may check the infection based on symptoms and confirm the diagnosis by identifying the bacteria in a sample of infected tissue, sometimes supplemented with imaging tests. Some common diagnostic procedures include:

  • Blood counts
  • Urinalysis
  • Blood cultures
  • Swab cultures
  • X-rays
  • Computed tomography (CT)
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
  • Exploratory surgery

Treatment

Treatment for streptococcal infections varies depending on the specific type of infection.

A course of antibiotics, such as penicillin, erythromycin and clindamycin, is the standard treatment for streptococcal infections. Prompt treatment with antibiotics can prevent streptococcal infections from spreading rapidly and reaching the blood and internal organs.

Serious streptococcal infections, such as endocarditis, and severe cellulitis, require a combination of antibiotics given intravenously.

Necrotizing fasciitis is a more severe form of group A streptococcal skin infection. People with necrotizing fasciitis are treated in an intensive care unit (ICU) with surgical intervention. In the surgery, dead, infected tissues will be surgically removed.


Keywords: Streptococcal infections.

Related Posts:

Strep Throat: Symptoms, Causes, Treatment

Infective Endocarditis: Symptoms, Causes, Treatment

Do You Get Cellulitis and What are the Signs of Cellulitis?

What Should I Know about Necrotizing Fasciitis?

Group B Strep Test — Who & Why?

* The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.