According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Group A Streptococcus is a bacterium often found in the throat and on the skin. People may carry group A streptococci in the throat or on the skin and have no symptoms of illness. Most GAS infections are relatively mild illnesses such as “strep throat,” or impetigo. Occasionally these bacteria can cause severe and even life-threatening diseases.
The following is a conversation about strep throat with Jose Sanchez, MD, a pediatrician with Via Christi Clinic and one of his patients.
Angie: Dr. Sanchez, in one sentence, what is your first thought about strep as a pathogen?
Dr. Sanchez: Angie, strep is my arch enemy!
Angie: How does it show up in your practice?
Dr. Sanchez: It can manifest in many forms: sore throat, bad breath, sandpaper rash, erysipelas, impetigo, deep seated tissue infection, or just fever. Sometimes it will present as a bad diaper rash in babies.
Angie: So should a parent be able to tell if someone has strep?
Dr. Sanchez: It can fool the naïve eye! A strep screen should be used and is positive 80-85 percent of the time. A follow up culture usually raises the accuracy to 95 percent.
Angie: Should strep be treated?
Dr. Sanchez: I am aggressive with it. I recommend attacking it with a penicillin shot rather than a simple oral antibiotic. If they are allergic, I try Erythromycin, or Clindamycin.