Streptococcus, what is this bacterium, how it is transmitted and how it is treated

The bacterium streptococcus A has shown a significant increase in its diffusion, especially compared to the years preceding the Covid-19 pandemic. During last winter, its circulation began early, contributing to a notable increase in cases, some of whom presented with severe forms of the disease. A study conducted at the Policlinico and Humanitas in Milan revealed two new aspects of the bacterium during the six months between 2022 and 2023. In particular, a greater incidence of the bacterium on adults, with more serious forms of disease than in the past. The most significant increase occurred in invasive infections, which recorded 34 cases in the first quarter of 2023 alone, approximately triple the average for the same period in the years before the pandemic. This phenomenon can also be attributed to the restrictions imposed during the pandemic, because being closed at home has lowered the tolerance threshold for viruses and bacteria.

What is streptococcus

Streptococcus is a genus of gram-positive bacteria belonging to the Streptococcaceae family. These bacteria are spherical or oval in shape and generally appear in chains or pairs. Exist several species of streptococci, some of which are normally present in the human respiratory and gastrointestinal tract, without necessarily causing disease. However, some types can cause a wide range of infections, ranging from mild infections, such as streptococcal pharyngitis, to more serious infections, such as meningitis or septicemia.

Among the streptococcal species that cause infections in humans, Streptococcus pyogenes, also known as group A beta-hemolytic streptococcus, is one of the most significant. This bacterium is the cause of various diseases, including streptococcal pharyngitis, impetigo, tonsillitis, scarlet fever and skin infections.

Other species to be aware of include Streptococcus pneumoniae, which can cause pneumonia, meningitis and otitis media, and Streptococcus agalactiae, which is an important pathogen in newborns and can cause septicemia and meningitis.

How it is transmitted

Streptococcus can be transmitted from person to person through several routes. The main modes of transmission include transmission for by airThe direct contactThe indirect contact and the vertical transmission. Airborne transmission occurs when an infected person releases respiratory droplets through coughing, sneezing or speaking, which can be inhaled by nearby people. Transmission can also occur when a person comes into direct contact with an individual’s infected body secretions, such as saliva, mucus, or nasal fluids, through kissing, coughing, sneezing, or by directly touching the infected person. Indirect contact occurs when a person touches surfaces contaminated with secretions of infected people and subsequently touches their own mucous membranes. Vertical transmission occurs when the bacterium is transferred from mother to newborn during birth.

THE symptoms of strep throat can vary depending on the type of infection and the severity of the condition. Typically, a strep infection manifests as severe sore throat, fever, difficulty swallowing, and swelling of the tonsils and throat. Other common symptoms include headaches, general fatigue and, in younger children, abdominal pain. In some cases, the infection can lead to rheumatic fever, especially if not treated properly.

How is strep treated

When you contract strep, treatment depends on the type of infection and the severity of your symptoms. Often, they are prescribed antibiotics to fight bacterial infection. Furthermore, it is fundamental rest And drink lots of fluids to help the body fight the infection. In some cases, painkillers or antipyretics may be recommended to relieve symptoms such as pain and fever.