Group A Streptococci (GAS) are bacteria that are often found in the nose, throat and/or on the skin of healthy people.
Toronto Public Health investigates reports of diseases of public health significance including invasive GAS (iGAS) disease by notifying close contacts of an infected person and assessing the need for preventive antibiotics. Close contacts are advised to watch for symptoms of iGAS infection, including fever, for 30 days, and see their health care provider right away if they develop these symptoms.
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.
Most people who get GAS will experience common infections such as sore (strep) throat, tonsillitis, and skin infections (e.g., impetigo, pyoderma). Less commonly a person may develop scarlet fever.
Occasionally, GAS causes “invasive” infections, which can be severe and possibly life threatening. This occurs when GAS infect sites that are usually sterile, such as blood, fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord, or in the lining of muscles and joints.
Symptoms that may indicate iGAS include:
Close contacts of people with iGAS 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.