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What Are the Causes of Strep Throat?

throat examination

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  • The main cause of strep throat is the Streptococcus pyogenes or Group A Streptococcus (GAS) bacteria, which shouldn’t be confused with Group B strep bacteria
  • Both types of strep bacteria are known to cause debilitating diseases if left unaddressed
  • Children are more likely to be infected with the strep throat-causing bacteria

Strep throat occurs because of an infection from Group A Streptococcus (GAS) bacteria or Streptococcus pyogenes,1 which target your pharynx and cause subsequent throat and tonsil inflammation.2 Group A Streptococcus bacteria responsible for strep throat are usually found in the throat or on the skin. This should not be confused with another type of strep bacteria named Group B3 that reside in the throat, bowel, bladder or vagina.4

Both types of Streptococcus bacteria are dangerous. Group A can lead to diseases such as impetigo, cellulitis, sinusitis,5 scarlet fever, sepsis, meningitis,6 pneumonia, necrotizing fasciitis and streptococcal toxic shock syndrome.7,8

Meanwhile, Group B is associated with negative effects on pregnant women and newborn babies. A baby can be infected with this bacteria once the mother passes it to them during labor and delivery.9 Group B bacteria can also result in miscarriage, premature labor or stillbirth among pregnant women, although cases like these are rare.10

If a newborn was infected with the Group B bacteria, they are prone to developing meningitis, sepsis and pneumonia triggered by this pathogen.11 Within the first 24 hours after they're born, newborns infected with Group B strep may experience symptoms such as:12

  • Increased fussiness and sleepiness
  • Breathing problems and instances of not breathing
  • Grunting noises
  • Blood pressure changes
  • Arm or leg problems such as decreased movement or pain during movement
  • Fever
  • Red patches on the face or other body parts
  • Convulsions

Risk Factors for Strep Throat

Strep throat mainly affects children between 5 and 15 years old.13 It's reported that 20 to 30 percent of sore throat cases among this age group are caused by the Streptococcus pyogenes bacteria. Adults can also be affected by the strep bacteria, although at a lesser rate. The bacteria is known to cause 5 to 15 percent of sore throats in adults.14

The time of the year also plays a role in the onset of strep throat. The bacterial infection is contagious and can be transferred from one person via close contact with saliva or nasal secretions from an infected person. Most strep throat cases occur during late fall15 and early spring.16

Places like schools and day care centers are open during these periods,17 paving the way for contact among people there and a higher risk for strep throat. However, you are also at risk for being infected with strep throat causing-bacteria in military barracks, nursing homes,18 offices19 and households.20

Because of how seemingly common and frequent the strep bacteria can be transmitted from one person to another, you must ensure that you and your family is protected against this infection at all times.


Strep Throat: Introduction

What Is Strep Throat?

Is Strep Throat Contagious?

Strep Throat Symptoms

Strep Throat Causes

How Do You Get Strep Throat

Strep Throat Without Tonsils

Strep Throat Duration

Strep Throat vs Sore Throat

Strep Throat Treatment

Strep Throat Prevention

Strep Throat Diet

Strep Throat FAQ

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