Streptococcus infection is a disease caused by Streptococcus bacteria. There are two types of Streptococcus bacteria that most often attack humans, namely type A and type B. This bacterial infection can be experienced by everyone, from infants, children, to adults.
Streptococcus bacteria generally live and grow in the human body without causing serious disease. However, several types of Streptococcus bacteria can cause infections, ranging from mild symptoms to those that can be life threatening.
The following are some types of Streptococcus bacteria and each description of the infection:
- Streptococcus type A bacteria
Type A Streptococcus generally causes infections of the throat and skin. Some conditions that can be caused by this bacterium are Scarlet fever, strep throat, rheumatic fever, impetigo, and glomerulonephritis.
- Streptococcus type B bacteria
These bacteria most commonly cause sepsis, pneumonia, and meningitis in infants. In adults, type B Streptococcus causes urinary tract infections, skin infections, soft tissue infections (cellulitis), sepsis, bone and joint infections, and pneumonia.
Causes and Transmission of Streptococcus Infection
The risk factors and modes of transmission of Streptococcus A and B bacteria are different. Here is the explanation:
Streptococcus type A
Streptococcus type A bacteria can live on the skin and throat of humans without causing infection. However, transmission can still occur if:
- Having direct contact, for example by touching or kissing, with a person who is infected with or carrying the Streptococcus type A . bacteria
- Touching a contaminated surface
- Inhaling splashes of saliva from people who are infected or carry Streptococcus type A . bacteria
- Eating contaminated food
- Using contaminated eating utensils
Some risk factors that can increase a person’s risk of developing type A Streptococcus bacterial infection are:
- Have a chronic disease or condition that impairs the immune system, such as cancer, diabetes, and kidney failure
- Using corticosteroid drugs
- Have a cut or open wound on the skin, such as a cut, abrasion, or wound from a medical procedure
The severity of the condition experienced depends on the character of the bacteria and the reaction of the patient’s body. For example, some types of Streptococcus type A bacteria can produce unique toxins or proteins. These toxins and proteins play a role in the process of disease in humans.
Streptococcus type B
Streptococcus type B bacteria are bacteria that are actually harmless to adults. These bacteria live in the intestines, vagina, and rectal area. However, just like type A Streptococcus bacteria, Type B Streptococcus bacteria can cause infections.
These bacteria can stay temporarily or for a long time in the body of adults. The pattern of distribution is not known. However, these bacteria are not spread through food, water, or sexual intercourse.
In adults, the risk of developing type B Streptococcus bacterial infection is higher if the following factors are present:
- Over 65 years old
- Suffering from conditions that impair the immune system, such as cancer, diabetes, or HIV
- Suffering from obesity, liver disease, and heart or blood vessel disorders
Streptococcus type B bacteria can also cause problems in newborns. This bacterium is passed from the vagina to the baby during a normal delivery process. Some factors that can increase the risk of type B Streptococcus bacterial infection in infants include:
- Premature birth
- The amniotic fluid has ruptured 18 hours or more before birth
- Infected placenta or amniotic fluid
- Mother is declared to have this bacteria in the body at the end of pregnancy
- Mother once gave birth to a child who was also infected
- Mother has fever during labor
Symptoms of Streptococcus Infection
Each type of Streptococcus can cause different diseases and each disease has its own symptoms. The explanation is as follows:
Streptococcus type A
Streptococcus type A bacterial infection can be experienced by all age groups. The following are complaints that arise based on diseases caused by Streptococcus type A bacteria:
- Difficulty swallowing or dysphagia
- Red spots on throat with white or gray discharge
- Loss of appetite
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Red lines that appear around the armpits, elbows, and knees
- Swollen and bumpy tongue
- There are red, white, or yellow patches in the throat
- Swollen tonsils
- Nausea and vomiting
- Pale skin around lips
- Red face
- Joint pain
- Joint redness, swelling, or feeling hot
- A jerking movement in the hands, feet, or head that occurs involuntarily
- Small bumps and rashes on the skin
- Chest pain
- Abnormal heart murmur
- Sores such as blisters on the body, generally in the facial area, which quickly enlarge and burst
- Moist and wet areas from blister fragments
- The crust is golden brown due to the drying liquid
- High blood pressure
- Urine is red and foamy
- Swelling in the face, legs and abdomen
Streptococcus type B
Streptococcus type B bacterial infection can occur in adults and infants. In adults, type B Streptococcus bacteria can cause the following conditions:
- Skin and soft tissue infections, characterized by red areas that feel hot and painful
- Lung infection (pneumonia), which is characterized by shortness of breath and coughing
- Urinary tract infection, which is characterized by pain when urinating, difficulty holding urine, and cloudy urine
- Meningitis or inflammation of the lining of the brain, which is characterized by fever, headache, and stiffness in the neck
- Sepsis, which is characterized by fever, chills, rapid breathing, and loss of consciousness
While the symptoms that appear in infants are divided based on the time of appearance. Early symptoms or those that appear within 24 hours after the baby is born include:
- Difficult to breastfeed
- Babies tend to sleep constantly and are difficult to wake up
- Snoring breath
- Very slow or very fast breathing
- Very slow or very fast heart rate
Meanwhile, late symptoms or those that appear 1 week or 3 months after birth, include:
- Difficult to breastfeed
- Shortness of breath or snoring
- Often sleepy
- Body feels weak or stiff
- Throw up
- Bluish skin (cyanosis)
When to go to the doctor
Check with your doctor if you or your child experience any of the complaints mentioned above. The sooner the infection is found and treated, the better the chances of recovery and avoiding complications.
If you are pregnant, you should consult with your doctor about the need to be tested for type B Streptococcus bacterial infection, especially if you have a urinary tract infection or your child has had a type B Streptococcus bacterial infection before.
Diagnosis of Streptococcal Infection
In diagnosing Streptococcus infection, the first step taken by the doctor is to ask the patient about the symptoms that arise and the patient’s medical history. After that, a physical examination will be carried out to see the symptoms that appear directly
Detection of Streptococcus bacteria can be done by examining the swab on the infected body part, for example taking a sample from the throat in conditions of strep throat. In addition, urine, blood, or cerebrospinal fluid can also be used as samples.
In pregnant women, a swab examination is carried out in the vaginal or rectal area at 35 to 37 weeks of gestation. The results of the swab examination will be out in a few days. However, if rapid results are required, a rapid antigen test can be performed.
If necessary, further examination will also be carried out according to the condition of each patient. For example, to detect soft tissue damage due to infection, examination can be done using X-rays, CT scans, or MRIs.
Streptococcal Infection Treatment
To treat a Streptococcus infection, the doctor will give the patient antibiotics. Antibiotics can relieve symptoms while preventing transmission to others. The type and dose of antibiotics given can vary, depending on the patient’s condition.
The following are the actions taken by doctors for each type of Streptococcus infection:
Streptococcus type A infection
To treat type A Streptococcus infection, the doctor will prescribe a penicillin class of antibiotics, such as:
The drug can be taken orally. However, if the infection is severe, the drug will be given through an IV.
In patients who have an allergy to penicillin drugs, the doctor will give the antibiotic erythromycin or azithromycin as a substitute. The amount of the dose given will also be adjusted to the patient’s condition.
In certain conditions, surgical procedures need to be performed to remove body tissue that has died due to infection. The goal is to prevent the spread of bacteria in the body.
Type B Streptococcus infection
To treat type B Streptococcus infection, antibiotics that can be given by doctors are penicillin and ampicillin. However, in patients who have a history of allergy to penicillin, the doctor may give the antibiotic cefazolin, clindamycin, or vancomycin.
Pregnant women suspected of being infected with Streptococcus type B will be given antibiotics during delivery, especially if:
- Visible signs of premature labor
- Amniotic fluid has been ruptured for 18 hours or more
- Mother has a fever during childbirth.
Giving antibiotics to the mother during labor can reduce the potential for early symptoms of type B Streptococcus infection to appear in the baby, but cannot prevent the onset of late symptoms.
As with the treatment of type A Streptococcus infection, some conditions due to type B Streptococcus infection may also need to be treated with a surgical procedure. Surgery aims to remove infected soft tissue, skin, or bone.
Complications of Streptococcus Infection
Complications that can occur in Streptococcus infection depend on the type of infection suffered. In type A Streptococcus infection, these complications include:
- Tonsil removal
- Heart damage
- Formation of an abscess (collection of pus) in the infected area
- Brain damage in children
For type B Streptococcus infection, complications that may arise depend on the patient’s age and health condition. In severe infections, babies can develop sepsis, pneumonia, and meningitis which are at risk of death.
In some babies, long-term complications can occur, such as:
- Developmental disorders
Meanwhile, complications that can arise in pregnant women are:
- Uterine and placental infections
- Premature birth
- Fetal death in the womb
Prevention of Streptococcus Infection
Prevention of Streptococcus type A Streptococcus infection can be done by avoiding the risk of transmission, such as:
- Wash your hands after activity
- Do not share eating utensils, such as spoons, plates, or glasses
- Use a mask, especially when you are sick or around people who are sick
- Cleaning items that may be contaminated
To prevent type B Streptococcus infection in newborns, pregnant women are recommended to have regular check-ups, especially in the third trimester of pregnancy, so that treatment can be carried out immediately if signs of infection are detected.