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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Nash Epperson

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

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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Therese D.

Survivor, Survivor, Survivor, Survivor

On December 19, my son was born after an incredibly smooth and quick labor. All signs pointed to me being able to bring my Christmas baby home the following day. I would never have believed you if you had told me what my family and I had in store. Within just a few hours of delivery, I felt cold and shaky. (Sepsis and Pregnancy & Childbirth) This being my second baby, I knew something felt off. I spent the entire night like this, shaking uncontrollably. I awoke the next morning and fainted, blue lips and a BP of 64/44. Heart ... Read Full Story

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Harper Aitken

Survivor, Survivor, Survivor, Survivor, Bug's Angels

Harper died on the 8th of March 2019, aged 3 years. She had a rash and a high temperature of 41.5°. She was taken to hospital in an ambulance but was discharged due to having perking up, playing, asking for food and water. She also had diarrhea and doctor put it down to a tummy bug. She seemed on the mend the next day but her lips went blue and bruises appeared. I was advised to take her to the GP. She collapsed at the surgery was given a shot of penicillin and came round again. We got another ambulance ... 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.