Group A Strep and Group B Strep refer to the two most common strains of Streptococcal infections which affect human beings, although there are over 20 different bacteria types in total. Different strains can be more serious than others, and knowing the symptoms can allow for early detection and successful treatment.
What is Streptococcus?
Streptococcus is a bacteria which takes on different forms, some of which are mild and some of which can be deadly. The infections caused by this bacteria can take the form of non-invasive or invasive infections. Non-invasive means that the infection only affects the skin, but if it reaches the blood stream it becomes invasive and is considerably more serious. Streptococcus is particularly dangerous for the very young, the very old and those who have weakened immune systems.
What is Group A Strep?
Group A Strep is most common as a non-invasive form. The bacteria manifests itself in the form of a sore throat, known as strep throat, or minor skin complaints, such as impetigo. Sufferers of the milder forms of this infection, which are thought to be very common and rarely reported, will often not display any symptoms. Invasive infections are so rare that only one in every 100,000 people will contract the bacterial infection but the more serious invasive forms, Necrotizing faciitis and Streptococcal Toxic Shock Syndrome, have a mortality rate of between 25 and 35 percent. Sufferers with few or very mild symptoms are far less likely to be contagious.
Symptoms and Treatment
Symptoms can include a high temperature, a fever and dizziness and confusion. For necrotizing faciitis, which is a flesh-eating form of the infection, the symptoms can also include a wound site which is swollen and red, while Streptococcal Toxic Shock sometimes includes a red rash which can cover the whole body. People who display these symptoms are advised to seek medical treatment without delay, and treatment will usually involve a course of antibiotics. Sufferers should isolate themselves from others until the course of antibiotics has begun.
Whatis Group B Strep?
Group B Streptococcus is less common than the Group A form. The bacterial infection is found in either the human digestive system or in the reproductive organs of a woman, most notably the birth canal, although in the latter case the female may be unaffected and possibly even unaware that she is carrying the bacteria. Newborn children are most likely to contract this strain, which can develop into meningitis or pneumonia and affects one in every two thousand newborns. The mortality rate for babies who contract this bacterial infection is one in ten and a small percentage of those who survive will be permanently affected by disabilities such as brain damage.
Symptoms and treatment
The symptoms for Group B Strep include fever, limpness or stiffness, breathing problems, seizures or fits, grunting or moaning sounds, screaming and very often a refusal to feed. These symptoms depend upon whether it is early onset, in other words it has developed in the first hours of birth, or late onset which develops from one week to around six months after birth. Early medical intervention is necessary to get the best chances of recovery, but it can be difficult to spot changes in a newborn's behavior because the parents will often just be getting to know their new child. As with Group A Strep, treatment is a course of antibiotics, but in the case of babies it will usually include intravenous administration and admittance to hospital.