Sepsis and Group A Streptococcus

Group A Streptococcus, also called group A strep, is a bacterium that can cause many different infections. These may cause sepsis.

Sepsis, which was often called blood poisoning, is a life-threatening emergency that happens when your body’s response to an infection damages vital organs and, often, causes death. Like strokes or heart attacks, sepsis is a medical emergency that requires rapid diagnosis and treatment.

Suggested Citation:
Sepsis Alliance. Sepsis and Group A Streptococcus. 2024

Updated September 20, 2023.


More About Group A Streptococcus


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

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 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.


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.


Preventing an infection from group A strep is the same as with other types of similar infections:

  • Wash your hands often and thoroughly.
  • Avoid people who are coughing, sneezing, or have other signs of a respiratory virus.
  • Clean open wounds with clean soap and water. You may want to use antibiotic ointment. Keep the wound protected (covered).

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.

Related Resources

Information Guide

Strep Throat

  • To submit this form you are required to enter your first name, last name, a valid email address and your role.

Information Guide

Necrotizing Fasciitis

  • To submit this form you are required to enter your first name, last name, a valid email address and your role.

Ryan Lines

Ryan was a active, happy one year old perfect little boy. A month after his birthday Ryan woke up with a snotty nose. Throughout the day he still seemed his happy self. By that afternoon he was having slight temperatures and was starting to not be himself, he was very clingy and wimping, quiet dazed and also wouldn’t weight bear which he had been walking for a few months. We took him to the hospital to be released with that he probably had a virus and just teething. The next morning we noticed Ryan still wasn’t improving so went back ... Read Full Story

Submit Your StoryView More Stories

Elizabeth B.

I was diagnosed with sepsis along with Strep A and toxic shock two days after giving birth to my beautiful daughter. (Sepsis and Group A Streptococcus, Sepsis and Toxic Shock Syndrome, Sepsis and Pregnancy & Childbirth) I was sent to the ER in Dallas, Texas, where I was intubated and in a medically induced coma for 8 days. I had an infection in my vagina that came from birth, resulting in five surgeries later to finally contain the infection. I was on continuous dialysis for 5 days and 3 days of intermittent dialysis. Due to the pressers I was on ... Read Full Story

Submit Your StoryView More Stories

Evelyn Bauer

Always a smile on her face, Evelyn was on the go from morning to night. She had to be doing something and we had to keep up! Evelyn was a kindergarten student and loved going to school, often doing schoolwork even when she did not have to. Evelyn lived life big and her love for her family was endless. On Tuesday January 3,2023 Evelyn came home from school not feeling well. That evening she had a 103.4 fever with vomiting and an overall feeling of being ill. We decided to call the pediatrician’s office for peace of mind. We were ... Read Full Story

Submit Your StoryView More Stories

Stephen M.

It was December 27th 2022 and I was in Dublin, Ireland, to visit my family. I am Irish, but living now in Berlin with my wife and 2 children. In my brother’s home I noticed that my left knuckle on my index finger was red and swollen. I figured I must have banged it. An hour later I was shivering, it was so sudden. My wife advised that we should go back to our hotel. That night, I developed flu symptoms and diarrhea along with vomiting. My wife had similar symptoms so I figured we both had the same bug. ... Read Full Story

Submit Your StoryView More Stories

Kevin Kitz

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

Submit Your StoryView More Stories

Other Topics

Group A Streptococcus