Streptococcus got its name from the Greek words “chain” and “bead”, because under a microscope they look like balls or ovoids and resemble beads strung on a string.
Streptococcus is a conditionally pathogenic microorganism, is a gram-positive bacterium and is present in the human body. For the time being, the microbe behaves “about”, but once the immune system is weakened, streptococcus is activated and becomes a source of various diseases.
About 40 types of streptococci are known. Depending on the presence in their composition of certain polysaccharides, these microbes were divided into groups from A to V.
The disease-causing streptococci, the most dangerous to humans, are those that belong to group A. In turn, group A streptococci are divided into 3 subgroups based on their ability to destroy red blood cells:
- alpha green streptococci;
- beta hemolytic streptococci;
- gamma streptococci.
Streptococci of group A of the beta-hemolytic subgroup are called pyogenic streptococci ( Streptococcus pyogenes ). They are guilty of the development of many diseases:
- erysipelas, streptoderma;
- scarlet fever, sore throat;
- pharyngitis, bronchitis, pneumonia.
- abscess, sepsis;
- lesions of the urogenital system.
The source of infection is a sick person or a carrier of streptococcus (much less often). Infection occurs in several ways:
- contact and household (penetration of a microbe through damaged skin by close contact with a sick person or through infected household items: dishes, toys, bed linen, etc.);
- airborne (with particles of mucus and saliva when coughing, sneezing, screaming);
- vertical (infection of the fetus during pregnancy and childbirth);
- sexual intercourse (unprotected sexual intercourse, non-compliance with the rules of personal hygiene).
In addition, the risk of infection with streptococcus increases dramatically with the weakening of the body’s defenses (hypothermia, chronic diseases, HIV infection, etc.).
Differential diagnosis of streptococcal infection should be performed to distinguish
- streptococcal sore throat from diphtheria and infectious mononucleosis,
- scarlet fever from rubella and measles,
- erysipelas from dermatitis and eczema.
The diagnosis of diseases caused by streptococcus is established on the basis of a characteristic clinical picture.
Also to clarify the nature and severity of the infection and in order to exclude complications are appointed:
- are common analyzes blood and urine;
- radiography of the lungs;
- Ultrasound of the internal organs;
- other additional survey methods.
Bacteriological examination is shown:
- sputum culture;
- taking smears from tonsils, affected skin.
Streptococcus treatment is performed by the doctor whose profile corresponds to the form of the disease. For example, a dermatologist, abscesses, phlegmon and osteomyelitis treat a face – a surgeon, cystitis supervises urologist and so on.
Etiotropic therapy (elimination of the cause of the disease) consists in prescribing antibiotics of the penicillin series:
These are the only antibiotics to which streptococci are not able to acquire resistance.
Depending on the severity and form of the disease, antibiotics are administered orally or intramuscularly 4 times a day, the duration of the course is 5-10 days.
If there is an allergy to penicillins, antibiotics from the macrolide group (erythromycin, oleandomycin ) are prescribed .
For the purpose of detoxification,an abundant drink of up to three liters per day is indicated. Ascorbic acid is assigned in parallel to strengthen the walls of blood vessels. Symptomatic drugs to reduce the temperature (paracetamol, aspirin) are taken no more than three days.
For streptococcal infections in the oropharynx, mouth and throat rinsing is prescribed with furacilin solution (for hygienic, but not for therapeutic purposes).
The effects of streptococcal infection are due to the absorption of endotoxin, which is released when bacteria die. It provokes allergic reactions and leads to the development of such severe and chronic diseases as glomerulonephritis, rheumatism and collagenosis.
The development of streptococcal infection depends on the form and severity of the disease. With the defeat of the internal organs, the prognosis for life is relatively favorable.
Often found forms:
one. Scarlet fever
The disease begins abruptly, with a rise in temperature to high numbers and severe intoxication (weakness, lack of appetite, nausea, headache, sore throat when swallowing). After a few hours (about 6-12), a rash appears. At first, it becomes noticeable on the hands, feet and upper part of the body, then spreads throughout the body (for 2-3 days of illness). Disappears rash in the second week.
2 Angina (acute tonsillitis )
About acute tonsillitis say when the tonsils are inflamed. Streptococcus, penetrating into the tonsils, causes in them an inflammatory process, the nature of which may be different (catarrhal, follicular, lacunar , necrotic angina).
If the barrier function of the tissues that surround the tonsils is reduced, then they are also involved in the inflammatory process, as a result of which paratonsillitis occurs ( paratonsillar abscess – acute inflammation in the soft tissues of the tonsils).
The incubation period is from several hours to 2-5 days. The disease begins acutely and suddenly. There is a fever, severe weakness, headache, inability to swallow, there is a feeling of aching in the joints.
With severe course of a sore throat, chills last for several days. Headaches are dull in nature and last for 2-3 days. The feeling of aches in the joints, pulling back pain persists for 1-2 days. Sore throat, first mild, then worse and reaches a peak on the second day.
Angina differs from scarlet fever in the absence of a rash.
When inspecting the tonsils there is a significant increase in the presence of yellow-white purulent plaque or whitish bubbles (follicles).
Erysipelas is acute and, as a rule, difficult. There is a significant increase in temperature (39-40 ° C), severe headache, severe weakness, chills, muscle pain. Against the background of intoxication, the mind becomes confused, the patient begins to wander.
A characteristic sign of erysipelas is a local inflammation of the skin. The place of inflammation rises above the level of healthy skin, is distinguished by bright red color, high temperature and clear boundaries. In the case of severe disease, blisters and hemorrhages appear in the affected area.
Inflammation of the bone marrow, which penetrates all layers of the bone, is called osteomyelitis. Purulent inflammation develops, as a result of which the bone marrow is necrotized , and an abscess occurs on this site, which tends to break out.
People with sharply reduced defenses of the body may develop sepsis. From the primary lesion, streptococcus enters the bloodstream and is spread throughout the body (septicemia). At the same time, new foci of infection are formed in different places – abscesses in the lungs, liver, kidneys, brain, etc. ( septicopyemia ).