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Overview

Overview of Group A Streptococcus

Streptococcus pyogenes (also known as Group A Streptococcus, or GAS) is a gram-positive, beta hemolytic bacteria. It is comprised of at least 80 serotypes, which makes developing a vaccine difficult.1 Group A Streptococcus is a bacterium commonly found in the human throat or on skin and causes a wide variety of diseases in humans, the most common being acute pharyngitis or strep throat. Group A Streptococcus infections may result in mild illness (e.g. pharyngitis, impetigo) or may lead to invasive, life-threatening illness such as acute rheumatic fever, cellulitis, bacteremia, necrotizing fasciitis, or Streptococcal toxic shock syndrome.

Accurate diagnosis of streptococcal pharyngitis followed by appropriate antibiotic therapy is important for the prevention and control of Group A Strep infections.

Person-to-person transmission of Group A Strep can occur from contact with mucus of the nose or throat from infected persons and wounds or sores on the skin. Asymptomatic carriers less likely to pass infection but is possible.

Acute pharyngitis is one of the most frequent illnesses for which pediatricians and other primary care physicians are consulted, with an estimated 15 million visits per year in the United States. Approximately 20-30% of children seeking physician care are diagnosed with Group A Strep pharyngitis. Traditional laboratory diagnosis is performed by rapid antigen testing or throat swab culture. Studies show that culture may miss up to 10% of true positives.3

The societal cost of Group A Strep among children in the United States ranges from $224 to $539 million per year.2 Worldwide, approximately 18.1 million people suffer from a serious Group A Strep disease.4

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