Group A Streptococcus

Group A Streptococcus, also called group A strep, is a bacterium that can cause many different infections. These may cause sepsis. Sometimes incorrectly called blood poisoning, sepsis is the body’s life-threatening response to infection. Like strokes or heart attacks, sepsis is a medical emergency that requires rapid diagnosis and treatment.

Sepsis and septic shock can result from an infection anywhere in the body, such as pneumonia, influenza, or urinary tract infections. Worldwide, one-third of people who develop sepsis die. Many who do survive are left with life-changing effects, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), chronic pain and fatigue, organ dysfunction (organs don’t work properly), and/or amputations.

Infections caused by group A strep

Group A bacteria cause several types of infections, most commonly:

Group A strep can cause strep throat

How group A strep spreads

Group A strep bacteria live in your nose and throat. They spread through droplets from coughing or sneezing, or by direct contact with the mucus. You might breathe droplets in if you’re close enough when an infected person coughs or sneezes. As well, the droplets may land on a solid object that you touch later. This type of contact may also occur if people who are infected blow their nose and touch an object before washing their hands. Either way, if the bacteria are transferred to your hand or fingers and you put your hand to your face, you can become infected.

If the skin is infected, as with cellulitis or impetigo, the bacteria must come in contact with a spot of skin that had an open area, such as a cut, scrape, or bite. The opening may be so tiny that you didn’t notice anything beforehand. Impetigo is common among young children as they share toys and play together.

Invasive group A strep disease

While it’s common for group A strep to exist in your throat and nose, and on your skin, it is not common inside your body. When these bacteria enter your body, they can cause infections such as necrotizing fasciitis (often called “flesh eating disease”) and toxic shock syndrome. These are invasive group A strep infections.

Symptoms

Group A strep infection symptoms depend on where the infection is. The common symptoms include pain in the affected area, redness, and swelling. If the infection progresses or is a systemic infection, such as scarlet fever or toxic shock syndrome, you would develop fever, muscle aches, and flu-like symptoms.

Treatment

Treatment for the infections include appropriate antibiotics. Sepsis caused by group A strep should be treated urgently with both antibiotics and IV fluids. For people with necrotizing fasciitis, surgery will remove the affected tissue.

If you suspect sepsis, call 9-1-1 or go to a hospital and tell your medical professional, “I AM CONCERNED ABOUT SEPSIS.” 

what is sepsis

 

 

Would you like to share your story about sepsis or read about others who have had sepsis? Please visit Faces of Sepsis, where you will find hundreds of stories from survivors and tributes to those who died from sepsis.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also has group A strep information for the public.

Suggested Citation: Sepsis Alliance. Sepsis and Group A Streptococcus. 2022. https://www.sepsis.org/sepsisand/group-a-streptococcus/

Updated March 8, 2022.

Read Personal Stories of Sepsis and Group A Streptococcus

Teddy Bennett

Survivor

My story of Strep A, toxic shock and sepsis. My 11-month-old son Teddy became ill in October 2018 around Halloween. I took him to the GP twice, then to a walk-in centre. He was admitted to hospital via ambulance for observation and then discharged a few hours later. I took him back to the hospital the following morning as I knew something was not right. He was observed again and then discharged with a district nurse attending our home the following morning. Teddy was then rushed in via ambulance, he had become severely unwell. The team struggled access veins, after ... Read Full Story

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Andreea L.

Survivor, Survivor

Last summer (2022) I found out I suffered from pericardial effusion and I was always weak and out of breath. One day I finally had a nice time with my family going out, visiting a farm (we haven’t been able to do anything nice lately because of how tired and weak I was). Then, the next day I started feeling horrible, not having any ideas what was happening to me. My husband called for an ambulance because he got scared. Luckily, the paramedic immediately recognized the symptoms: very high temperature (40C), chest and stomach pain, vomiting and chills. Even though ... Read Full Story

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Kevin Kitz

Survivor, Survivor, Survivor

Hello all, My life changed forever on June 30, 2022. I’m 59 and worked in construction as a tile setter. Came home not feeling well. My wife keeping a close eye on me called 911 about 10pm. I don’t remember anything from this point until I woke up 10 days later.. I was admitted into the ICU immediately.. Doctors could not identify the infection or its entry. Oxygen level was 72, elevated heart rate rising and blood pressure falling. They put me on a ventilator to allow them time to identify infection and to try to stabilize my body. They ... Read Full Story

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Nash Epperson

Survivor, Survivor, Survivor, Survivor

On the morning of April 28, 2018, Nash was a normal, healthy 6-year-old playing in an early morning soccer game. That same evening, we almost lost our sweet boy to sepsis. That Saturday was full of soccer games and celebration – April is a month full of birthdays for our family, including Nash. On that April afternoon we had gone to a family member’s home to celebrate a birthday. While there, Nash began to complain of belly pain and had developed a fever. We took him home and he laid down to rest. As the day progressed his pain increased ... Read Full Story

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Teresa Eoff

Survivor, Survivor, Survivor, Survivor, Survivor

On Friday July 7, 2017, I woke up with a sore throat. I gargled with salt water and went to work. I was fine working during the morning. I decided to walk to Starbucks to get a Medicine Ball tea to calm my sore throat which was burning pretty bad. I came back to my desk 10 minutes later and after a few sips of my tea began vomiting profusely for a continuous hour. I laid on the floor and told my coworkers “I felt like I was dying.” I called my husband and asked him to come to my ... Read Full Story

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Group A Streptococcus

Group A Streptococcus, also called group A strep, is a bacterium that can cause many different infections. These may cause sepsis. Sometimes incorrectly called blood poisoning, sepsis is the body’s often deadly response to infection. Like strokes or heart attacks, sepsis is a medical emergency that requires rapid diagnosis and treatment.