Follow us On YouTube Follow us On FaceBook

Search Language
Medical Animations
Medical Animation Titles
Custom Legal Animations
Patient Health Articles
Most Recent Uploads
Body Systems/Regions
Anatomy & Physiology
Diseases & Conditions
Diagnostics & Surgery
Cells & Tissues
Cardiovascular System
Digestive System
Integumentary System
Nervous System
Reproductive System
Respiratory System
Back and Spine
Foot and Ankle
Head and Neck
Medical Specialties
Administrator Login
The Doe Report Medical Reference Library
Print this article
Group A Streptococcal Infections - Severe

Group A Streptococcal Infections - Severe Loading image. Please wait...

Group A streptococcal infections are caused by group A streptococcus, a bacterium responsible for a variety of health problems. These infections can range from mild skin infection or sore throat to invasive, life-threatening conditions such as toxic shock syndrome and necrotizing fasciitis. Most people are familiar with strep throat, which along with minor skin infection, is the most common form of the disease. Experts estimate that more than 10 million mild infections like these occur every year.

In addition to strep throat and superficial skin infections, group A strep bacteria can cause infections in tissues at specific body sites, including lungs, bones, spinal cord, and the abdominal cavity.

What are the more severe streptococcal infections?
Some types of group A streptococcus bacteria cause severe infections. These include:

  • Bacteremia (blood stream infections)
  • Toxic shock syndrome
  • Necrotizing fasciitis (sometimes called flesh-eating disease)

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 8,800 cases of severe group A streptococcal disease were reported in 2000, a rate of 3.1 per 100,000 people.

All severe group A strep infections may lead to shock, organ failure, and death. Health care workers must recognize and treat such infections quickly.

Doctors diagnose these infections by looking at blood counts and doing urine tests as well as cultures of blood or fluid from a wound site. Antibiotics include penicillin, erythromycin, and clindamycin. If tissue damage is severe, a doctor may need to remove the tissue surgically or amputate the limb.

Who is at greatest risk for severe infection?

  • Children with chickenpox
  • People with suppressed immune systems
  • Burn victims
  • Elderly people with cellulitis, diabetes, blood vessel disease, or cancer
  • People taking steroid treatments or chemotherapy
  • Intravenous drug users

Severe group A strep disease may also occur in healthy persons with no known risk factors.

Through research, scientists have learned that there are more than 120 different strains of group A streptococci, each producing its own unique proteins. Some of these proteins are responsible for specific group A streptococcal diseases. With support from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), scientists have determined the genetic sequence, or DNA code, for three different strains of the group A streptococcus organism.

By studying an organism's genes, scientists learn which proteins are responsible for virulence, crucial information that will lead to new and improved drugs and vaccines. NIAID funds are supporting research for developing a group A streptococcus vaccine. An effective vaccine will prevent not only strep throat and impetigo, but more serious invasive disease and post-infectious complications like rheumatic fever.

Two different vaccine approaches are being evaluated in clinical trials in the NIAID Vaccine and Treatment Evaluation Units. More information is available at the following NIAID Web site:

Source: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
August 2000.

Medical/Legal Disclaimer
Copyright © 2003 Nucleus Medical Art, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Related Medical Demonstrative Evidence - click thumbnail to review.
How do I find a personal injury lawyer in my local area?
Find a personal injury lawyer in your local area using LEGALpointer™, a national directory of U.S. attorneys specializing in personal injury, medical malpractice, workers' compensation, medical product liability and other medical legal issues. Or, click on one of the following to see attorneys in your area: Alabama (AL), Alaska (AK), Arizona (AZ), Arkansas (AR), California (CA), Colorado (CO), Connecticut (CT), Delaware (DE), Washington D.C. (DC), Florida (FL), Georgia (GA), Hawaii (HI), Idaho (ID), Illinois (IL), Indiana (IN), Iowa (IA), Kansas (KS), Kentucky (KY), Louisiana (LA), Maine (ME), Maryland (MD), Massachussets (MA), Michigan (MI), (MN), Mississippi (MS), (MO), Montana (MT), North Carolina (NC), North Dakota (ND), Nebraska (NE), Nevada (NV), New Hampshire (NH), New Jersey (NJ), New Mexico (NM), New York (NY), Ohio (OH), Oklahoma (OK), Oregon (OR), Pennsylvania (PA), Puerto Rico (PR), Rhode Island (RI), South Carolina (SC), South Dakota (SD), Tennessee (TN), Texas (TX), Utah (UT), Virginia (VA), Virgin Islands (VI), Vermont (VT), Washington (WA), West Virginia (WV), Wisconsin (WI).

Awards | Resources | Articles | Become an Affiliate | Free Medical Images | Pregnancy Videos
Credits | Jobs | Help | Medical Legal Blog | Find a Lawyer | Hospital Marketing