GAS and GBS infection types: what are they?

Streptococcal infection is known to form different groups - GAS and GBS infection as well as C, D and G infection types, which are less common in modern medical practice. Streptococcal infections of groups A and B are considered to be responsible for the majority of streptococcal illnesses. That's why they have similar signs, symptoms, GAS and GBS treatment.

Streptococcal infection is one of the most frequently occured infections causing different types of diseases. Depending on the type of this infection several kinds of illnesses are known.
First of all it's necessary to mention that streptococci are known as positive cocci, which tend to grow in pairs or chains in clinical specimens.

First the streptococcal infections were classified into several groups in 1930s by Rebecca Lancefield. Nowadays types A, B, C, D and G of streptococcal infection are known in modern medical practice. But we will pay attention to the GAS and GBS infection types because they are the most widely spread ones.

Group A streptococcal infection (also known as GAS) is considered to be responsible for most of streptococcal illnesses. It is one of the most significant pathogens encountered in medicine. This group of streptococcal infection is able to cause different diseases of upper respiratory tract and skin, as well as wide variety of invasive systemic infections. Children, adults over 60 years of age and people with weakened immune system are usually at the greater risk.

What's interesting about group B streptococcal infection (or simply GBS)? It is likely to affect newborns, elderly people or those who are in pre-existing medical conditions (for example, cancer or diabetes). About 40% of children are infected with group B streptococcal infection from their mothers.

It's necessary to mention that there are several major syndromes associated with GAS and GBS infection. First of all, they are scarlet fever, strep throat, various local infections (for example, pneumonia), skin infections (cellulites and impetigo) and other ones. Babies aged between one week and few months infected by GAS and GBS infection may experience fever, irritability, poor nutrition, lethargy, seizures, etc. Be aware that some people can be just carriers of GAS and GBS infection with no evident symptoms and signs of being infected.

Speaking about GAS and GBS treatment it's impossible not to mention about the importance of these infections diagnosis. GAS and GBS infection can be diagnosed by cultures collected from urine, blood or spinal fluid. If it's necessary to check whether the pregnant woman is infected, for example, with GBS infection, vaginal swabs may also help in diagnostics.

The principal form of GAS and GBS infection treatment is intravenous antibiotics usually given in hospitals. The treatment of GAS infection differs a bit from the one of GBS infection. The reason is that GAS infection is able to cause a great variety of diseases, which have their own peculiarities of treatment. Very often they can even require specific alternative treatment. Be aware that the majority of GAS infections may lead to shock, multisystem organ failure and sometimes even death. So, early diagnosis and treatment of the disease may be critical. The most common antibiotics used for GAS infection treatment are penicillin, clindamycin and erythromycin.


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