Group A Streptococcus (GAS) is a bacterium often found in the throat and on the skin. People may be carriers of Group A Streptococci and have no symptoms of illness. Most GAS infections are relatively mild illnesses such as "strep throat," or impetigo. On rare occasions, these bacteria can cause other severe and life-threatening diseases.

    Streptococcal infections spread through direct contact with mucus from the nose or throat of persons who are infected or through contact with infected wounds or sores on the skin. Ill persons, with strep throat or skin infections, are highly contagious. Persons who carry the bacteria but have no symptoms are less contagious.

    School policy permits children with this infection to return to school after 24 hours of antibiotics, providing they are feeling well. It is important to complete the entire course of antibiotics if prescribed.

    CAUSATIVE AGENT: Streptococcus Bacteria of at least 60 different types--Group A is the most common in children.


          Strep throat—red and painful sore throat with white patches on the tonsils. A person may also have swollen lymph nodes, headache and fever over 99 F. Nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain can occur, but are more common in children than in adults. It is also important to know that some cases of strep throat are asymptomatic.  
    skin lesions. Symptoms start with red pimple-like sores lesions can appear anywhere on the body, but are found mostly on the face, arms, and legs. Lesions fill with pus, then break open after a few days and form a thick crust. Itching is common. The healthcare provider can diagnose the infection by looking at the skin lesions.
          Scarlet Fever (Scarlatina)—
    fine body rash, peeling feet and hands that accompany above symptoms.
          Other Severe Strep Infections—
    these are very rare, Bacteremia (blood stream infections), Toxic Shock Syndrome, Necrotizing Fasciitis.
    INCUBATION PERIOD: Within 3 days after exposure

    COMMUNICABILITY: Once infected, a person can pass the infection to others for up to 2 to 3 weeks even if they don't have symptoms. After 24 hours of antibiotic treatment, a person will no longer spread the bacteria to others.

    METHOD OF TRANSMISSION: Group A Streptococcal Infection is spread by direct contact with saliva or nasal discharge of an infected person. It is usually not spread by casual contact with others, but a crowded environment like a dormitory, school, or an institutional setting can make it easier for the bacteria to spread. There have also been reports of contaminated food, especially milk and milk products, causing infection.

    TREATMENT: Treatment with antibiotics for 24-48 hours or longer generally eliminates the spread of the bacteria.
    PREVENTION: Frequent hand washing, covering coughs and sneezes, as well as keeping the hands away from the mouth, nose and eyes. 
    For more information contact your health care provider, your school nurse, the Marin County Health Department, or go to this website:  Strep FAQS

Last Modified on March 13, 2015