Infectious Diseases 2022

Streptococcus: what é, how is it caught and main symptoms

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Streptococcus: what é, how is it caught and main symptoms
Streptococcus: what é, how is it caught and main symptoms

Streptococcus corresponds to a genus of bacteria characterized by having a rounded shape and being found arranged in a chain, in addition to having a violet or dark blue color when viewed under the microscope, being, therefore, called gram-positive bacteria.

Most of the Streptococcus species can be found in the body, not causing any type of disease. However, due to some condition, there may be an imbalance between the various species of microorganisms present in the body and, consequently, this type of bacteria can multiply more easily, causing different types of diseases.

Depending on the species of Streptococcus that manages to develop, the resulting disease and symptoms may vary:

1. Streptococcus pyogenes

Streptococcus pyogenes, S. pyogenes or group A Streptococcus, is the type that can cause the most serious infections, although it is naturally present in some parts of the body, especially in the mouth and throat, in addition to being present in the skin and respiratory tract.

How to get it: Streptococcus pyogenes can be easily transmitted from person to person through sharing cutlery, kissing or secretions, such as sneezing and coughing, or through contact with wound secretions from infected people.

Diseases it can cause: one of the main diseases caused by S. pyogenes is pharyngitis, but it can also cause scarlet fever, skin infections such as impetigo and erysipelas, in addition to tissue necrosis and rheumatic fever. Rheumatic fever is an autoimmune disease characterized by the body's own attack on the immune system and which can be favored by the presence of the bacteria.Learn how to identify and treat rheumatic fever.

Common symptoms: S. pyogenes infection symptoms vary according to the disease, however the most common symptom is a persistent sore throat that occurs more than 2 times per year. The identification of the infection is done through laboratory tests, mainly the antistreptolysin O test, or ASLO, which makes it possible to identify antibodies produced against this bacterium. Here's how to understand the ASLO exam.

How to treat: Treatment depends on the disease the bacteria causes, but is mainly done with the use of antibiotics, such as Penicillin and Erythromycin. It is important that the treatment is carried out according to the doctor's guidance, as it is common for this bacterium to acquire resistance mechanisms, which can make treatment complicated and result in serious he alth complications.

2. Streptococcus agalactiae

Streptococcus agalactiae, S. agalactiae or group B Streptococcus are bacteria that can be found more easily in the lower intestinal tract and in the urinary and female genital system, and can cause serious infections, especially in newborns.

How to get it: The bacteria are present in a woman's vagina and can contaminate amniotic fluid or be aspirated by the baby during delivery.

Diseases that can cause: S. agalactiae can pose a risk to the baby after birth, and can cause sepsis, pneumonia, endocarditis and even meningitis.

Common symptoms: the presence of this bacterium does not normally cause symptoms, but it can be identified in the woman a few weeks before delivery to verify the need for treatment to prevent infection in the newborn. In the baby, the infection can be identified through symptoms such as a change in the level of consciousness, a bluish face and difficulty breathing, which can appear a few hours after delivery or two days later. Understand how the test is performed to identify the presence of group B Streptococcus in pregnancy.

How to treat: treatment is usually done with the use of antibiotics, the most commonly prescribed by the doctor Penicillin, Cephalosporin, Erythromycin and Chloramphenicol.

3. Streptococcus pneumoniae

Streptococcus pneumoniae, S. pneumoniae or pneumococci can be found in the respiratory tract of adults and less frequently in children.

Diseases it can cause: is responsible for diseases such as otitis, sinusitis, meningitis and, mainly, pneumonia.

Common symptoms: with the main illness being pneumonia, the symptoms are usually respiratory, such as difficulty breathing, breathing faster than normal and excessive tiredness. Know other symptoms of pneumonia.

How to treat: the treatment is done with the use of antibiotics, which must be recommended by the doctor, such as Penicillin, Chloramphenicol, Erythromycin, Sulfamethoxazole-Trimethoprim and Tetracycline.

4. Streptococcus viridans

Streptococcus viridans, also known as S. viridans, is found mainly in the oral cavity and pharynx and has a protective role, preventing the development of other bacteria, such as S. pyogenes.

Streptococcus mitis, belonging to the group of S. viridans, is present on the surface of the teeth and in the mucous membranes, and its presence can be identified through the visualization of dental plaques. These bacteria can enter the bloodstream during tooth brushing or tooth extraction, for example, especially when the gum is inflamed. However, in he althy people, these bacteria are easily eliminated in the bloodstream, but when the person has a predisposing condition, such as atherosclerosis, intravenous drug use or heart problems, for example, the bacteria can grow in a certain place in the body, resulting in in endocarditis.

Streptococcus mutans, which also belongs to the group of S. viridans, is present mainly in tooth enamel and its presence in teeth is directly related to the amount of sugar consumed, being the main responsible for the occurrence of caries dental.

How to confirm Streptococcus infection

Streptococcus infection is identified in the laboratory through specific tests. The doctor will indicate, according to the symptoms presented by the person, the material that will be sent to the laboratory for analysis, which can be blood, secretions from the throat, mouth or vaginal secretion, for example.

In the laboratory, specific tests are carried out to indicate that the bacterium causing the infection is Streptococcus, in addition to other tests that allow the identification of the species of bacteria, which is important for the doctor to conclude the diagnosis. In addition to identifying the species, biochemical tests are carried out to verify the sensitivity profile of the bacteria, that is, to verify which are the best antibiotics to combat this infection.

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