Streptococco: quali patologie può causare?

Streptococcus is a bacterium that often causes tonsillitis or pharyngitis, especially in children.

There are several species of Streptocuccus: the best known is the beta-hemolytic streptococcus group A (or pyogenes), which in some subjects, the so-called healthy carriers, is part of the normal bacterial flora present in the throat.

In other cases, however, if the immune defenses are lower than normal, the bacterium begins to “act”: fever, sore throat, enlarged tonsils, redness, plaques or white streaks in the throat are its best known manifestations.

The Streptococcus pyogenes strain can also cause scarlet fever, the only exanthematous disease to be caused by a bacterium.

How to find its presence in the throat

To check for the presence of the bacterium in the throat, a pharyngeal swab is used, which can be performed in a hospital or in an analysis laboratory.

If the swab is positive, the infection is not viral but bacterial; An antibiotic will then be prescribed, to be taken for at least 7-10 days. Amoxicillin is usually indicated, sometimes in combination with clavulanic acid, except in cases of side effects such as persistent diarrhea, where it usually switches to cephalosporins or macrolides.


If group A beta-hemolytic streptococcus is not adequately treated with antibiotics, it can give rise to rare, but possible, complications, including peritonsillar or retropharyngeal abscesses. It can also involve persistent hip pain, blood in the urine, endocarditis, arthritis in children.

3-4 weeks after infection, kidney disease or rheumatic diseases may occur which, in addition to causing joint pain, can cause abnormalities in the heart valves. In this case, the execution of the Tas (antistreptolysin titer) is indicated, which indicates the amount of antibodies that the body produces in the presence of streptolin O, an enzyme produced by beta-hemolytic streptococcus of group A, B, C, F and G.

How does streptococcus infection occur?

Transmission occurs from one subject to another through droplets of saliva. But bacteria can also spread by touching objects that have been handled by a person who has been infected, such as door handles, cell phones, bathroom items, kitchen utensils, and even supermarket trolleys.

The greatest danger of contagion occurs when the patient is symptomatic, but the bacterium, if left untreated, can be transmitted up to 21 days after its appearance. The incubation period is 2-4 days.

After a couple of days from the start of administration of the antibiotic the symptoms recede.

Other streptococcal infections

Streptococcus not only causes throat disorders, but also skin problems or systemic infections, which must be treated urgently.

In addition to Streptococcus pyogenes, there are four rather dangerous species:

Streptococcus agalactiae It mainly affects infants and the elderly causing sepsis, meningitis and pneumonia
Streptococcus pneumoniae (or pneumococcus) Pneumonia in adults, which can also cause meningitis and septicemia, as well as otitissinusitis and bronchitis in children
Streptococcus mutans It is localized in the mouth and is among the responsible for dental caries
Streptococcus faecalis Streptococcus faecium They live in the throat and intestines and can cause meningitis, endocarditis and urinary tract infections.

Joycelyn Elders is the author and creator of EmpowerEssence, a health and wellness blog. Elders is a respected public health advocate and pediatrician dedicated to promoting general health and well-being.

The blog covers a wide range of topics related to health and wellness, with articles organized into several categories.

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