STREPTOCOCCAL INFECTION (STREP THROAT, IMPETIGO, SCARLET FEVER)Group A Streptococcus (GAS) is a bacterium often found in the throat and on the skin. People may be carriers of group A streptococci and have no symptoms of illness. Most GAS infections are relatively mild, illnesses such as "strep throat," or impetigo. On rare occasions, these bacteria can cause other severe and life-threatening diseases.
These bacteria are spread through direct contact with mucus from the nose or throat of persons who are infected or through contact with infected wounds or sores on the skin. Ill persons, with strep throat or skin infections, are highly contagious. Persons who carry the bacteria but have no symptoms are less contagious. Treatment with antibiotics for 24 hours or longer generally eliminates the spread of the bacteria.
If your child develops any of these symptoms, please consult your child's health care provider and notify your child's school/day care. School policy permits a child with this infection to return to school after 24 hours of antibiotics, providing they're feeling well. It is important to complete the entire course of antibiotics as prescribed.CAUSATIVE AGENT: Streptococcus Bacteria of at least 60 different types, A is the most common in children.SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS:
- Strep throat: Red and painful sore throat with white patches on their tonsils. A person may also have swollen lymph nodes, fever >99 F., and headache. Nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain can occur but are more common in children than in adults.
- Impetigo: Skin lesions. Symptoms start with red pimple-like sores lesions can appear anywhere on the body, but are found mostly on the face, arms, and legs. Lesions fill with pus, then break open after a few days and form a thick crust. Itching is common. The healthcare provider can diagnose the infection by looking at the skin lesions.
- Scarlet Fever (Scarletina): Fine body rash, peeling feet and hands that accompany above symptoms.
INCUBATION PERIOD: Within 3 days after exposure.
COMMUNICABILITY: Once infected, a person can pass the infection to others for up to 2 to 3 weeks even if they don't have symptoms. After 24 hours of antibiotic treatment, a person will no longer spread the bacteria to others.
METHOD OF TRANSMISSION: Group A strep. Infections are spread by direct contact with saliva or nasal discharge of infected persons. It's usually not spread by casual contact with others, but a crowded environment like a dormitory, school, or an institutional setting can make it easier for the bacteria to spread. There have also been reports of contaminated food, especially milk and milk products, causing infection.