Streptococcus is a whole family of microorganisms. Under the microscope, they look like a chain of balls. Among this family there are non-dangerous for humans, but several species cause a fairly large number of dangerous diseases from food poisoning to purulent processes in almost every point of the body.
Streptococcus under the microscope
The term streptococcal infection defines a group of diseases caused by beta-hemolytic streptococcus. So he was called because of the property to destroy red blood cells. This group includes erysipelas, scarlet fever, local and generalized purulent-inflammatory processes: abscesses, cellulitis, boils, osteomyelitis, wound infection, streptococcal sepsis and endocarditis. Streptococcal infection is a trigger for rheumatic fever (rheumatism), acute glomerulonephritis (inflammation of the renal tissue). The closest relative of beta-hemolytic streptococcus – pneumococcus (streptococcus pneumonia) is the main causative agent of pneumonia, sinusitis.
The painful effect of streptococcus is determined by its ability to produce toxins (poisons): streptolysin has a destructive effect on blood cells and heart tissue, erythrogenic causes dilation of small vessels and causes rash, for example, scarlet fever, leukocydine destroys leukocytes – one of the elements of the immune system. In addition, streptococcus secretes enzymes that promote the penetration and distribution of it in the tissues.
The source of infection is a sick person, possibly asymptomatic carrier of the pathogen.
The main route of transmission of streptococcus is airborne, in addition, a household contact path is possible — through dirty hands contaminated with nursing care items. Penetration into the body often occurs through the mucous membrane of the respiratory tract (96-97%), infection through damaged skin or through the umbilical wound in newborns is possible.
At the site of the introduction of streptococcus into the body, a center of inflammation develops serous, purulent, or with the death of the affected tissues (necrotic). Highlighting special enzymes, streptococcus overcomes local barriers and penetrates the blood and lymphatic system, causing the formation of foci of streptococcal infection in distant organs (heart, bones, etc.), inflammation of lymph nodes. Toxins secreted by streptococcus, cause a sharp rise in temperature, vomiting, headache, impaired consciousness (most often with scarlet fever, erysipelas, sepsis). No less significant is the so-called allergic syndrome: an allergic reaction develops in the patient’s body to the components of the cell wall of streptococcus, during which the kidneys, heart, and joints are damaged by their own immune system. Immunity after suffering streptococcal infection is unstable, so a person can repeatedly suffer from streptococcal diseases (except for one of the components – against the toxins produced by streptococcus, it stays for life, providing protection from recurring scarlet disease).
Symptoms of streptococcal infection
Briefly consider the particular manifestations of streptococcal infection.
Scarlet fever. Purple fever was called scarlet fever in the 17th century because of one of its manifestations – an abundant punctate rash. Scarlet fever occurs with high body temperature, severe intoxication. One of the signs of scarlet fever is inflammation of the tonsils (tonsillitis, tonsillitis). The disease begins acutely with chills, general weakness, headache, sore throat when swallowing, a rise in body temperature to 38-39˚. After 6-12 hours after the onset of the disease, a rash appears, initially more noticeable on the hands, feet, upper body. The maximum development of the rash reaches 2-3 days of illness, gradually disappearing by the beginning of the second week.
Symptoms of streptococcal infection
If a person has immunity against streptococcus toxins, then after being infected with this pathogen, the person will become ill not with scarlet fever, but with sore throat.
Angina – This is an inflammation of the tonsils of the pharynx (most often palatine). It is transferred angina, in the absence of anti-streptococcal treatment, more often than other diseases is the cause of the development of autoimmune processes leading to damage to the heart and kidneys. The probability of getting angina depends on the local immunity of the tonsils: the lower it is, the more likely it is to get angina. Reducing the overall immunity, under the influence of hypothermia, adverse environmental conditions also increases the likelihood of angina.
Overcoming the local protective barriers of the tonsils, streptococcus begins to multiply and produce various substances that cause the inflammatory process, which can be catarrhal, follicular, lacunar and necrotic in nature. The penetration of streptococci and their metabolic products through the lymphatic pathways into the lymph nodes causes their acute inflammation. In case of insufficiency of the barrier function of the tissues surrounding the tonsils, streptococci can penetrate the tissues around the tonsils, causing their inflammation (the so-called peritonsillitis, peritonsillar abscess), and when penetrating the blood can lead to the development of sepsis. The products of vital activity of streptococci that are sucked into the blood cause a violation of thermoregulation, as well as damage to the tissues of the body, first of all – the central and peripheral nervous system, kidneys, liver, blood vessels, myocardium, and others.
The incubation period for angina is 1-2 days. The onset of the disease is acute. Most often among the full health appear chills, weakness, headache, aching joints, sore throat when swallowing. Chill lasts for 15-30 minutes, then there is a feeling of heat. In severe forms of the disease, the chills continue for a long time, repeated the next day. Headache is dull, does not have a certain localization, persists for 2-3 days. Loss in the joints, in the loin appears almost simultaneously with chills and lasts for 1-2 days. Sore throat, at first insignificant, worries only when swallowing, then gradually increases, becomes constant, reaches maximum severity on the second day. A rash for sore throat does not happen. Tonsils with angina are enlarged, with yellow-white purulent bloom or white vesicles (follicles).
Erysipelas – This is not an expressive word, but another disease caused by streptococcus. The disease has both common signs of infection – headache, fever up to 39-40˚, chills, weakness, muscle pain, and specific – inflammatory lesion of skin areas. The area of the affected skin rises above healthy, has a bright uniform (red) color and clear boundaries. Depending on the severity of the disease, skin lesions may be limited to a red area, but, in severe cases, blisters and hemorrhages may appear.
Bone marrow inflammation, extending to all layers of bone called osteomyelitis. Streptococcus can be its cause in 6-8% of cases. The disease is manifested purulent lesion of the bone marrow. The substance of the bone dies, an abscess is formed, which soon breaks out.An extreme manifestation of streptococcal infection is sepsis. This disease develops in people with drastically reduced immunity. From the primary focus, the pathogen spreads blood throughout the body, new and new foci of infection appear – ulcers in the liver, kidneys, brain, lungs, bones, joints and
Diagnosis of Streptococcal Infection
The diagnosis of streptococcal infection is made on the basis of the symptoms of the disease. To clarify the nature of the disease (the degree of reaction of the organism), as well as the exclusion of possible complications, the patient is tested for blood, urine, electrocardiography. In order to clarify the type of pathogen, bacteriological studies are carried out – crops of biological material with foci of infection (eg, smears from the tonsils, foci on the skin, sputum from the lungs). Establishing a diagnosis, the doctor should distinguish streptococcal diseases from diphtheria (tonsil lesions like sore throat), rubella and measles (rash like those with mild scarlet fever), infectious mononucleosis (angina), dermatitis and eczema (similar to skin lesions with face)
Treatment of streptococcal infection
Treatment of streptococcal infection is carried out using penicillin-type antibiotics: benzylpenicillin, ampicillin, bicillin-3 or bicilli-5 on the third to fourth day after the start of treatment with penicillin. Streptococcus resistance to penicillin antibiotics cannot be obtained. If you are allergic to penicillins, an erythromycin antibiotic (erythromycin, oleandomycin) may be prescribed. Drugs of the sulfonamide group (sulfadimethoxine, co-trimoxazole) and tetracyclines (tetracycline, doxycycline) are not effective and are not recommended for treatment, their use can lead to asymptomatic carriage (the carrier will infect others). By the end of treatment with antibiotics, preparations normalizing the intestinal microflora (Linex, Bactisubtil) are prescribed.
To remove toxins from the body, you need to drink plenty of fluids up to 3 liters of fluid per day (tea, juice, fruit juice, or just water). With the medical and fortifying purpose take vitamin C, which has the ability to strengthen the walls of blood vessels and participate in the elimination of toxins. Combined drugs with paracetamol type Coldrex, teraflu can be used, but briefly, since their use may appear the appearance of well-being, which is the reason for the refusal of treatment and the occurrence of complications.
Preparations for rinsing the pharynx are not able to affect not only streptococcus, which is deep in the tissues, but also on the surface. Therefore, rinsing is used more hygienically than for medicinal purposes. Rinsing is more preferable than lozenges for sucking, since in the first case the pathogen is washed out and out, and in the second it is swallowed.The diet of a sick person must be easily assimilated (the body does not need to spend extra forces on splitting food), with a sufficient amount of vitamins.
Traditional methods of treating streptococcal infection
Traditional methods of treating streptococcal infections will greatly benefit a sick person, but are not suitable as the only or independent method of treatment. When deciding to abandon the traditional (with antibiotics) treatment methods, a person should understand that he takes responsibility for the possible occurrence of serious complications of infection. Preparations used in traditional medicine are mainly represented by decoction and infusions of medicinal plants. These are infusions of berries containing a large amount of vitamins (wild rose, cranberry, raspberry) – their use strengthens the body’s defenses and contributes to the rapid elimination of toxins, the same goal is pursued by the use of decoctions of plants with diuretic properties (lingonberry, bearberry). Broths of plants with astringent, anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties (oak bark, willow bark, chamomile, string) are used both inwards and outwardly as rinses and lotions. Thermal procedures, for example, a bath with the use of brooms and decoctions of medicinal herbs, can be performed during the recovery period, only without excesses: overheating also has a bad effect on the body, like hypothermia, mechanical effects on the lesion on the skin can lead to an exacerbation of the process. If the treatment prescription seems difficult, doubtful, then it should be abandoned in favor of simple proven tools.
Using traditional methods, you should not go to extremes: for example, some “traditional healers” suggest using urine lotions as a treatment and even fresh manure! Prevention of streptococcal infection is in compliance with the rules of personal hygiene, the hygiene of the home and public places. Hardening and sports contribute to the strengthening of the protective properties of the body. Healthy, nutritious food is an important component of protection against any diseases.
Harmful habits: smoking and alcohol abuse reduce the effectiveness of not only general and local protective barriers, but also adversely affect the outcome of the disease, increasing the risk of complications. Timely treatment of microtraumas (for example, iodine solution) will reduce the risk of penetration and development of the pathogen in the wound. If there are patients with streptococcal infection in the immediate environment, they should be isolated at the time of treatment.
Consultation with a physician on Streptococcal infection.
Is there a streptococcal vaccine?Answer: No, the beta-hemolytic streptococcus vaccine was not developed. There is a vaccine from his “relative” pneumococcus.
Is it possible to get scarlet fever twice?Answer: It is possible, but it is rather in theory. In practice, this is extremely rare.
What is the duration of the course of taking an antibiotic? Is it possible to cancel early?Answer: The standard course of antibiotic therapy is 7-10 days. At the discretion of the doctor, the course may be reduced to 5 days, or extended to 2 weeks. Independently reduce the course is strongly recommended.
What is more effective gargling or sprays?Answer: Both methods have no great therapeutic significance. Rinsing more preferably, for hygienic purposes, to remove the products of inflammation. The composition of the spray often are ineffective for streptococcal infections of sulfonamides.
When can complications of streptococcal infection occur?Answer: Complications can occur from 1-2 days to 4 weeks. monitoring of the ill and benign regimen can continue for up to 3 months