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What we know about strep A infection

What we know about strep A infection

You may have seen in the news that there has been a rise in severe strep A infection in Australia recently.

If you’re wondering about strep A infection symptoms, how to treat them and when to seek help, then read on.

We’re going to look at all these issues in our latest article.

What is strep A infection?

“Strep A” is shorthand for group A streptococcal disease. It can refer to a range of illnesses caused by group A streptococcus (GAS) bacteria, which is found on the skin and in the throat.

It is also known as type A streptococcal.

It can cause a range of illnesses including:

  • Scarlet fever
  • Impetigo
  • Strep throat
  • Cellulitis

What’s the current concern?

There has recently been a rise in a serious and life-threatening disease related to strep A called invasive group A streptococcal disease (iGAS) or invasive strep A for short.

It can sometimes lead to serious complications such as rheumatic fever, which can lead to heart problems and painful joints, or damage to the kidneys.

Invasive strep A only became a notifiable disease (meaning it could pose a risk to the public in the event of an outbreak) in 2022, which means we have limited information on it.

But the data for last year alone showed a steady rise in the infection as the year progressed, with the trend expected to continue into 2023.

And the WHO (World Health Organization) recently reported a worldwide rise in the disease too.

What are strep A infection symptoms?

As we’ve seen, there are lots of different types of strep A infection with varying symptoms. These can include:

  • In strep throat – sore throat and tonsils, pain when swallowing, fever, fatigue, generalised aches and pains
  • In scarlet fever – an extremely sore and red throat, fever and swollen glands. Symptoms may also include a red, rough-feeling rash on the skin and a red, bumpy tongue
  • In impetigo – sores on the face, hands and feet that blister
  • In cellulitis – red, inflamed skin that feels warm and tight
  • In iGAS – fast heart rate, fever, cold feet and hands, mottled skin, lethargy, confusion

Know that iGAS includes two severe forms: necrotising fasciitis and streptococcal toxic syndrome. Both these conditions need urgent medical treatment.

Necrotising fasciitis symptoms include:

  • Very painful skin sores
  • Swelling of the skin around the affected area
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Confusion
  • Grey, black or purple discolouration on the skin – know that this may be less obvious on darker skin

Streptococcal toxic shock syndrome symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Sunburn type rash
  • Bright red whites of the eyes, lips and tongue
  • Fainting
  • Breathing difficulty
  • Confusion

If you suspect either necrotising fasciitis or streptococcal toxic shock syndrome, seek medical help without delay.

Who does strep A infection affect?

Strep A infection can affect anyone but the following groups are more vulnerable:

  • Children under 5 years of age
  • People over 65 years of age
  • People with poor hygiene
  • People living in crowded conditions
  • People with weakened immune systems or long-term health conditions

How is strep A infection spread?

You can get strep A infection from close contact with someone who has group A streptococcus on their skin. This can happen if you:

  • Breathe in the droplets they release when they cough or sneeze
  • Touch a surface with infected droplets and then touch your nose or mouth
  • Use their unwashed cups, glasses or eating utensils
  • Touch infected sores on their skin
  • Kiss them

Strep A infection treatment

If you or a family member have a common strep A infection that’s mild to moderate, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics.

You can also manage some of the symptoms like fever at home by using cooling products, keeping a close eye on the patient’s temperature with a thermometer and encouraging them to drink plenty of clear fluids.

More severe cases of strep A infection will need hospital treatment.

How to prevent strep A infection

The key to preventing many types of infection, including strep A infection, is good hygiene:

Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and use hand sanitiser in between handwashing

Ensure frequently touched surfaces such as door handles, light switches and taps are cleaned and disinfected regularly

If someone in your household has a strep A infection, they should stay home for at least 24 hours after they start their antibiotic treatment

Prevent infection with FeverMates products

While media stories around strep A infection may be concerning, it’s good to know that you can prevent many different types of infection by following good hygiene practices and self-care.

Let FeverMates help keep your family safe and healthy with our range of well-being products.

From hand sanitiser, cooling products and thermometers to many other items, we’ve got what you need to help protect your loved ones from illness, so check out our range today.

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