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Streptococcal Disease: Groups A & B

Germ type: bacteria

Group A Streptococcus (GAS) bacteria is often found in the throat and on the skin. GAS can cause such illnesses as "strep throat" or impetigo (a skin infection), although in many cases, people carry the bacteria and have no symptoms. If these bacteria get into other parts of the body — such as muscle, bloodstream or lungs — they can cause serious infection. Strep throat is often treated with an antibiotic; a healthcare provider will determine if antibiotics are necessary for a GAS infection.

GAS:

  • Spread via: Droplets that become airborne after coughing/sneezing and land on surfaces.
  • Prevention: GAS can be prevented through proper handwashing, especially after coughing or sneezing and before eating or preparing food. Someone ill with strep throat should stay home until 24 hours after finishing his/her antibiotics to prevent spreading the infection. All wounds should be kept clean.

Group B Strep

Group B Streptococcus (group B strep) causes illness in newborn babies, pregnant women, the elderly, and adults with other illnesses, like liver disease or diabetes. It is the most common cause of life-threatening infections in newborns, including pneumonia or blood or brain infections. Symptoms in an infant can begin within a few hours of birth ("early onset"), or up to several months later ("late onset"). A pregnant woman may have a bladder infection caused by group B strep.

  • Spread via: Group B strep can be passed by an infected mother to her an infant during delivery.
  • Prevention: Most early-onset group B strep in infants can be prevented by giving intravenous antibiotics to the mother during labor. Pregnant women should be screened late in the third trimester to see if they carry group B strep.