Streptococcal infections are bacterial infections that occur mainly in the respiratory tract and they are caused by streptococcus bacteria. It is the acute infectious disease caused by the bacterium Streptococcus pyogenes.
Streptococcal infection of the nose and throat, streptococcal tonsillitis, Scarlet fever, inflammation of the bronchi and lungs, erysipelas, purulent skin infections, and puerperal fever may occur as an immediate consequence of this streptococci infection.
In addition, sinusitis, otitis media, inflammation of the meninges, and complications in the form of rheumatic fever and glomerulonephritis can occur as a complication of the streptococci infection.
Streptococcal infections are manifested differently depending on the patient’s age. For children under the age of 3 streptococcal infections occur in the form of mild inflammation of the nose and pharynx. Between the ages of the 3 to 15 the most common manifestations are purulent tonsillitis and Scarlet Fever. For adults, the most common manifestation of streptococcal infection is angina, and between the ages of 40 to 60 the infection is manifested through erysipelas.
After a short incubation period of 1-3 days, the disease occurs suddenly with fever, chills and rigors, and severe sore throat, headache and aching joints. Usually symptoms of secretion from the nose and cough that are typical for a viral infections of upper respiratory tract are not present. Frequently the disease begins with vomiting, especially in children. Pharynx, uvula and palatal arches are bright red and damaged, the tonsils are enlarged and red, with pus spots or layers. Lymph nodes in the neck are enlarged and painful.
Most common Streptococcal infections
Scarlet Fever (Scarlatina) is the most common between the ages of 3 -15. The disease begins as streptococcal angina, and after 1-2 days a characteristic rash appears. On the red skin there is small, reddish, speckled rash. Scarlet fever is caused by streptococci that produce erythrogenic toxin. There are three different types of immune erythrogenic toxin (A, B and C).
Streptococcal infection of nose and throat is milder streptococcal infection and characterized by slight fever, croup, nasal talking, and redness of the pharynx. In infants and small children streptococci infection from the nose and pharynx often spreads to the middle ear and mastoid extension. Lymph nodes in the neck are usually enlarged.
Erysipelas is a streptococcal skin infection which occurs after streptococcus enters the body through a minimum and invisible skin trauma. The disease begins abruptly with fever, high temperature, headache and vomiting. At the same time redness and swelling appear on the skin, which spreads to the periphery. The disease is more common in the elderly, and it is usually localized on the shins, especially on the legs with varicose veins.
Impetigo is another manifestation of streptococcal skin infections. It occurs frequently in young children, especially in unhygienic environments. On the skin surface it creates blisters that burst and spread quickly and turn into yellowish colored scabs.
If you suspect that you might have one of these infections you should see your doctor for a proper diagnosis and treatment of infections.
Treatment of streptococcal infections is successful with antibiotics, usually penicillin, and lasts about 10 days.
Streptococcal infection does not leave a lasting immunity, which means that we can often get sick from this disease. Children with enlarged tonsils are more prone to these infections and thus they can suffer from streptococcal angina several times a year.