Health protection – collection

Group A streptococcal infections: guidance and data

The characteristics, diagnosis and management of group A streptococci infections.

Group A Streptococcus (GAS; Streptococcus pyogenes) is a bacterium which can colonise the throat, skin and anogenital tract. It causes a diverse range of skin, soft tissue and respiratory tract infections, including:

In rare cases, patients may go on to develop post-streptococcal complications, such as:

  • rheumatic fever
  • glomerulonephritis

GAS can occasionally cause infections that are extremely severe, such as necrotising fasciitis. Any GAS manifestation can be associated with development of streptococcal toxic shock syndrome, although patients with necrotising fasciitis are at highest risk.

GAS is spread by close contact between individuals, through:

  • respiratory droplets
  • direct skin contact

It can also be transmitted environmentally, through:

  • contact with contaminated objects, such as towels or bedding
  • ingestion of food inoculated by a carrier

Invasive GAS (iGAS) infection and scarlet fever are both notifiable diseases: health professionals must inform local health protection teams of suspected cases.

Diagnosis

GAS is usually diagnosed by microbiological culture of the affected site. Serology has specific clinical uses and can be discussed with a local infection specialist.

GAS isolates from patients with healthcare-associated infections should be stored locally for a minimum of 6 months.

  1. RVPBRU: reference and diagnostic services

    • 1 August 2014
    • Detailed guide

Data collection

  1. Group A streptococcal disease: enhanced surveillance protocol

    • 20 February 2009
    • Guidance