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Streptococcus

Streptococcus is a flesh eating bacteria that occurs when a deep wound is exposed to germs and is caused by a type of bacteria called Streptococcal or Strep. This virus can vary in severity from mild throat infections to pneumonia.

Thousands of people every year contract the more serious form of virus which releases a toxin that can shut down your organs. However, there is a strain that develops into a flesh eating disease and the only way to stop it spreading is to remove the skin. There are more than 20 different types of Strep bacteria that can be split into two main groups – Group A and Group B.

Symptoms

Throat infections

Symptoms of a Strep A throat infection include:

  • Swollen tonsils
  • Enlarged and tender glands in your neck
  • A painful, tender feeling at the back of the throat
  • Discomfort when swallowing

Skin Infections

The 2 most common Strep A skin infections are:

Impetigo: Symptoms begin with blisters around the nose, mouth, arms, torso or legs. After the sores appear they will then burst leaving a thick, yellow-brown golden crusts. The crusts will then dry, leave a red mark and then heal with no scarring.

Cellulitis: This type of infection will ordinarily affect the legs but it can develop in any area of the body. It can effect your skin in a few different way causing it to become red, painful, hot, swollen and tender. If you succumb to this virus, blisters can develop on your skin and cause a high temperature, nausea, shivering and chills.

Symptoms of inner ear infection include:

  • Severe ear ache
  • A high temperature of 38°C or above
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Vomiting
  • Lack of energy
  • Slight deafness

Symptoms of Sinusitis from include:

  • A blocked or runny nose
  • A throbbing pain in your face
  • A high temperature

The symptoms of invasive Strep A depends on the type of infection.

In the lungs – causing a persistent cough and breathing difficulties

In the blood – causing a high temperature, rapid heartbeat and rapid breathing

In the protective outer layer of the brain - causing a severe headache, vomiting, stiff neck, sensitivity to light and blotchy red rash

Much rarer types of invasive strep A infections cause scarlet fever, toxic shock syndrome and necrotising fasciitis.

Strep B infections

Although very rare Strep B infections can develop in adults but tend to be similar to invasive Strep A as symptoms depend entirely on the part of the body that is infected. However, most people quickly develop a natural immunity to Strep B, so these type of infections only tends to affect new born babies.

Treatment for Strep A Infections

A throat infection caused by Strep A usually passes without the need for medication. Antibiotics will usually not be recommended for this type of infection as it does not speed up recovery time and can cause side effects including nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea. Impetigo can be treated using antibiotic cream and Cellulitis is a more deep rooted type of skin infection, so it will require a course of antibiotic tablets.

4 out of 5 cases of inner ear infection clear up within a few days without the need for treatment. Paracetamol and ibuprofen may be used to control the symptoms of inner ear infection. If your symptoms of sinusitis do not resolve within 7 days, your GP will prescribe you a short dose of antibiotics.

Invasive infection

Invasive Strep A infections are regarded as a medical emergency and you will likely be admitted to hospital if you develop this type of infection. It will be treated using intravenous antibiotics and will be given between 7 and 10 days. If there is an infected wound, it has to be removed, this is also known as source control. Source control involves draining the pus from an infected wound or surgically removing the infected tissue.

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This website contains general information about medical conditions and treatments. The information is not advice, and should not be treated as such. Please read our medical disclaimer.