Streptococcus is a spherical or egg – shaped bacterium belonging to The streptococcal family (Streptococcaceae).
Streptococci are anaerobic parasites not only of humans, but also of animals. The habitat and reproduction of streptococcal infection are the respiratory organs, gastrointestinal tract and genitourinary system of men and women, can be located on the skin. The predominant number of Streptococcus bacteria usually settles in the nose, mouth, throat and large intestine, sometimes found in the urethra of the male organ and the vagina of a woman.
In nature, this type of bacteria also exists in the ground, on the surface of plants and fungi.
Streptococcal infection is a conditionally pathogenic microflora-it is almost always present in the human body and does not carry any danger, since its number and stay in a person is controlled by the immune system. However, as soon as a person should weaken (stress, hypothermia, hypovitaminosis, etc.), the bacteria immediately begin to multiply actively, release a large number of products of their vital activity into the body, poisoning it, and provoke the development of various diseases, as written above, mainly – the respiratory, digestive and genitourinary systems. Therefore, the main preventive action against the development of streptococcal infection in the body, and related diseases, is to strengthen and maintain the normal functioning of the immune system. However, you should not consider all types of streptococci pathogenic — some of them are useful bacteria, for example — Streptococcus thermophilus, which are used in the production of sour-milk products – yogurt, sour cream, mozzarella and others.
The main methods of infection with streptococcal infection are airborne and household contact pathways.
Diseases that can cause streptococcus
- Abscess, phlegmons;
- Acute tonsillitis (angina);
- Erysipelas (erysipelas);
- Cheilitis, zaedy;
- Diseases of the genitourinary system.
In addition, streptococcal infection can become a secondary infection, joining, for example, staphylococcal, enterococcal and other types of infection.
The most common diseases of streptococcal etiology are children, elderly people, and office workers.
Characteristics of streptococci
Streptococcus is a typical cell with a diameter of less than 1 microns, arranged in pairs or chains, forming an elongated rod with thickenings and thinnings, shaped like beads strung on a chain. Because of this form, they got their name. Streptococcal cells form a capsule, and can easily turn into an L-form. Bacteria are immobile, with the exception of group d strains. Active reproduction occurs in contact with blood particles, ascitic fluid, or carbohydrates.
The favorable temperature for normal life of the infection is +37°C, the acid-base balance (pH) is 7.2 – 7.4. streptococci live mainly in colonies, forming a grayish coating. They process (ferment) carbohydrates to form acid, break down arginine and serine (amino acids), and synthesize extracellular substances such as streptokinase, streptodornase, streptolysins, bacteriocins, and leucocidin in the nutrient medium. Some representatives of streptococcal infection – groups B and D form red and yellow pigments.
Streptococcal infection includes about 100 types of bacteria, the most popular of which are pneumococci and hemolytic streptococci.
How to inactivate Streptococcus?
Streptococcus bacteria die when they are treated with solutions of antiseptics and disinfectants, during pasteurization, as well as when exposed to antibacterial agents – tetracyclines, aminoglycosides, penicillins (not used for invasive streptococcal infection).
Causes of Streptococcus
How is Streptococcus transmitted? Let’s look at the most popular ways of infection with streptococcal infection.
The conditions under which a person begins to develop streptococcal diseases usually consist of two parts – contact with this infection and a weakened immune system. However ,a person can also become seriously ill with normal contact with this type of bacteria.
How strep can get into the body?
Airborne pathway. The risk of infection with streptococcal infection usually increases during colds, when the concentration of various infections (viruses, bacteria, fungi, and others) in the air, mainly in closed rooms, increases significantly. Staying in offices, public transport, performances, and other places with a large crowd of people, especially during acute respiratory infections, is the main way to get infected with these bacteria. Sneezing and coughing are the main signals that warn that it is better to leave this room, or at least thoroughly ventilate it.
Air-dust path. Dust usually consists of small particles of fabrics, paper, peeled skin, animal hair, plant pollen, and various representatives of infection – viruses, fungi, and bacteria. Staying in dusty rooms is another factor that increases the risk of getting streptococcal infection in the body.
Contact and household path. Infection occurs when using dishes, personal hygiene items, towels, bed linen, and kitchen accessories together with a sick person. The risk of the disease increases when the nasal or oral mucosa is injured, as well as the skin surface. Very often, at work, people are infected through the use of one Cup for several people, or drinking water from the throat, from one bottle.
Sexual way. Infection occurs when intimate proximity with a person who has streptococci, or simply is their carrier. This type of bacteria has the property of living and actively multiplying in the organs of the genitourinary system of men (in the urethra) and women (in the vagina).
Fecal-oral (alimentary) pathway. Infection with streptococci occurs when personal hygiene rules are not observed, for example, when eating food with unwashed hands.
Medical path. Infection of a person occurs mainly during examination, surgical or dental intervention with non-disinfected medical instruments.
How can Streptococcus seriously harm a person’s health, or what weakens the immune system?
Presence of chronic diseases. If a person has chronic diseases, this usually indicates a weakened immune system. In order not to complicate the course of diseases, and streptococcal infection has not joined the existing diseases, pay due attention and focus on their treatment.
The most common diseases and pathological conditions in which Streptococcus often attacks the patient are: hypothermia, SARS, flu, acute respiratory infections, tonsillitis, tuberculosis, diabetes, HIV infection, diseases of the endocrine and other body systems, injury to the mucous membranes of the oral and nasal cavities, throat, and genitourinary system.
Types of Streptococcus
In total, about 100 species of streptococci are known, each of which is characterized by its own pathogenicity.
For convenience, this genus of bacteria, depending on the type of hemolysis of red blood cells, was divided into 3 main groups (brown classification):
- alpha-streptococci (α), or green streptococci — cause incomplete hemolysis;
- Beta-streptococci (β) — cause complete hemolysis, and are the most pathogenic bacteria;
- Gamma-streptococci (γ) are non – hemolytic bacteria, i.e. they do not cause hemolysis.
The Lancefield classification also identifies 12 serotypes of β-streptococci (A, B, C … to u), depending on the structure of the C carbohydrate of the bacterial Cell wall.
Treatment of Streptococcus
Treatment of Streptococcus usually consists of several points:
- Antibacterial therapy;
- Strengthening the immune system;
- Restoration of normal intestinal microflora, which is usually disturbed by the use of antibacterial drugs;
- Detoxification of the body;
- Antihistamines – prescribed for children who are allergic to antibiotics;
- Symptomatic therapy;
- In case of simultaneous disease and other diseases, are produced and their treatment.
The beginning of treatment is a mandatory visit to a doctor who, with the help of diagnostics, will identify the type of pathogen and an effective remedy for it. The use of broad-spectrum antibiotics can worsen the course of the disease.
Treatment of streptococcal infection can be carried out by different specialists – depending on the form of infection – a therapist, pediatrician, dermatologist, gynecologist, surgeon, urologist, pulmonologist, etc.
Prevention of Streptococcus
Prevention of Streptococcus includes the following recommendations:
Follow the rules of personal hygiene – wash your hands more often, brush your teeth, eat food only with washed hands;
Do wet cleaning at home, at least 2 times a week;
Do not allow hypothermia of the body;
Try to move more, go in for sports, harden up;
Do not leave possible foci of infection – inflamed tonsils, dental caries, adenoids, conjunctivitis, boils, inflammatory processes in the genitourinary system, etc.
Ventilate the room More often;
Avoid places with large crowds, especially in enclosed spaces and in the season of respiratory diseases;
If there is a patient at home, provide them with Cutlery, personal hygiene items, towels and bed linen for their personal use;
Do not use one dish for several people at work, and do not drink water from the throat at the same time with several people;
Follow the rules for the prevention of SARS and ARI diseases;
Try to eat foods rich in vitamins and trace elements;
If there is an air conditioner, air purifier or vacuum cleaner in the living room, do not forget to clean their filters, and by the way, the leaves of some flowers are also natural air purifiers, so do not forget to rinse them with water too;
Try not to visit beauty salons, tanning salons, tattoo parlors, dental and other clinics of a dubious nature, where they may not adhere to the necessary sanitary standards in their activities.
We wish you good health, do not get sick and follow all the recommendations of your doctor.