GAS is a germ (bacterium) that is often found in the nose, throat and/or on the skin of healthy people.
These bacteria are spread through direct contact with secretions from the nose or throat of people who are infected (e.g. open mouth kissing, mouth to mouth resuscitation) or through contact with infected wounds or sores on the skin. Those who are ill with GAS are the most likely to spread it to others. People who carry the bacteria but have no symptoms are much less contagious. Treating an infected person with an antibiotic for 24 hours or longer generally eliminates their ability to spread the bacteria.
Close contacts of people with invasive GAS may be at increased risk of infection, however, the risk of infection is low.
Close contacts include:
School classmates (kindergarten and older), work colleagues, as well as social or sports contacts of
the sick person are not usually considered to be close contacts.
Most people who get GAS will experience common infections such as sore (strep) throat, tonsillitis, and skin infections (e.g. impetigo, pyoderma). GAS is sometimes found in unusual places such as blood, fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord, or in the lining of muscles and joints. GAS found in these unusual places is called “invasive disease” and can result in severe invasive GAS disease.
Symptoms that may indicate severe invasive GAS include:
Toronto Public Health investigates reports of communicable diseases including Invasive GAS disease. Our role is to notify close contacts of an infected person and assess the need for preventive antibiotics. Close contacts are advised to self-monitor for signs and symptoms of GAS infection, including fever, for 30 days.
Call Toronto Public Health at 416-338-7600 (TTY at 416-392-0658) or speak to your healthcare provider.