What is Group a Strep?

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  • Written By: Sarah Mireles
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 14 February 2019
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Group A streptococcus is a bacteria commonly found on the skin or in the throat. It is responsible for strep throat and a variety of skin infections, such as impetigo. Group A strep infections are typically not life threatening and can be treated with a course of antibiotics. Invasive group A strep infections are rare but can be deadly if not treated immediately. Streptococcal toxic shock syndrome and necrotizing fasciitis are invasive group A strep infections, and both are considered to be life threatening.

Group A strep is found all over the world and is spread from person-to-person contact. After a person contracts a group A strep infection, symptoms typically appear within one to three days. Sore throat, swollen lymph glands, and fever, are all signs of a group A strep infection.

Strep infections on the skin exhibit signs of swollen and red skin, weeping sores and pain. A physician can test for group A strep by swabbing the infected area of the throat or skin. The sample is then cultured in a lab to test for strep bacteria. If a culture shows group A strep bacteria is present, a course of antibiotics is given to treat the infection.


Penicillin is the most common antibiotic used to treat a strep infection. For people who are allergic to penicillin, the antibiotics erythromycin and clindamycin are often prescribed. It is important for patients to finish the full course of antibiotics administered by a physician. Failing to do so can cause the strep infection to return and can lead to drug-resistant bacteria.

Group A strep infections are contagious and are spread from person to person, so preventative measures should be taken. Proper hand washing with warm water and antibacterial soap should be practiced often. Washing hands before meal preparation and after coughing or sneezing is extremely important. Skin infections should be kept clean and bandaged.

If a group A strep infection is suspected, school or work should be avoided until medical attention is sought. After a person tests positive for a group A strep infection, antibiotics should be administered for a full 24 hours before he or she returns to work or school. Persons who suffer from a weakened immune system, or those who have open skin wounds, can be more susceptible to strep infections. In these cases, medical attention should be sought, and a preventative course of antibiotics should be administered.



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