Sample date: April 25, 2014

Mainly cloudy. Wind becoming east 20 km/h after midnight. Low plus 5.

Temp
6.2C

Environment Canada
Text Size >   A   A   A

Printer Friendly

Communicable Diseases Links

Food Borne Illness

Influenza Virus

Information on Aids and HIV

Sexually Transmitted Infections

Group A Strep Disease

This page was reviewed or revised on Thursday, October 20, 2011 10:20 AM

What is Group A Strep?

Group A Streptococcus (GAS) is a bacteria found in the throats or on the skin of many people. It causes common infections such as a sore throat (strep throat), tonsillitis, scarlet fever and impetigo, a skin infection.

Sometimes, GAS can be found in uncommon places such as blood, fluid around the brain and spinal cord, in the lining of the muscles or in the joints. These GAS infections are called invasive diseases and result in:

  • Flesh Eating Disease (Necrotizing fasciitis) - infection of the lining of the muscles.
  • Myositis - infection of the muscles.
  • Meningitis - infection of the lining of the brain and spinal cord.
  • Streptococcal Toxic Shock Syndrome – causes several systems in the body to fail.

How is GAS spread?

About 10%-15% of people carry GAS in their throat without any problems. It can be spread from the nose or throat secretions of a person without symptoms or by a person who is ill with GAS. It is spread when the secretions directly contact the nose or mouth of an at risk person.
Avoid sharing objects or food that involves contact with another person’s nose or throat secretions. It can also spread when a person contacts infected cuts on the skin, such as impetigo. GAS is not spread through the air; infected people are usually not contagious after 24 hours of treatment with antibiotics.

Signs and symptoms

  • Flesh Eating Disease or myositis: fever, severe pain, swelling and/or redness of part of the body.
  • Meningitis: fever, severe pain when moving the neck, nausea and/or vomiting.
  • Streptococcal Toxic Shock Syndrome: fever, feeling ill, dizziness, confusion and/or flat, red rash on the body.

How can GAS be prevented?

Close contacts of people with GAS have an increased risk of infection. Close contacts are those exposed to nose or throat secretions or wound discharge of the sick person.  Exposure can result in the spread of disease only if it happened 7 days before person became ill and up to 1 day after treatment began.

Close contacts include:

  • Those in the same home as the sick person.
  • People with shared sleeping arrangements.
  • Those with direct contact with the sick person through mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, open-mouth kissing or an open, skin lesion.
  • Drug users who shared needles with the sick person.

Classroom, daycare, workplace and social contacts are not considered close contacts. Antibiotics are given to close contacts. Anyone with close, direct contact with someone with GAS, even if they receive antibiotics, should watch for symptoms. Close contacts should seek medical help immediately if they feel sick within a month after their last contact with the ill person.

What is given to close contacts?

Antibiotics - cephalexin, cephadroxil, or cephradine - are given to close contacts. Erythromycin, clarithromycin and clindamycin are given if other drugs cannot be used.

What is PDF? PDF stands for Portable Document Format and is a way of distributing documents over networks while ensuring they always print the same. To view PDF files, you need either the Foxit Reader (1.1 MB) or Adobe Reader (27.7 MB)