Recently, an outbreak of Streptococcus pyogenes (also known as Strep A) in Japan has reached record levels of incidence according to official sources with no obvious cause, with more than 900 cases so far this year and presence in almost every prefecture in the country.

This bacterium causes a variety of infections ranging from mild to very serious. Among the most common and mildest infections we can also find strep throat or scarlet fever, which is quite common in children. However, it can also cause streptococcal toxic shock syndrome (STSS), a serious and potentially fatal infection that is triggered when bacteria invade deep tissues and the bloodstream.

Is Streptococcus pyogenes contagious?

Group A streptococcus bacteria are highly contagious. Transmission can occur either by inhalation of respiratory droplets infected with the bacteria or by direct contact.

In the first case, since these bacteria usually colonise the nose and throat areas, infected patients can transmit them by coughing, sneezing or even talking. This can happen even when the patient has no symptoms of being sick.

In the second case, as can happen with impetigo (a disease caused by this bacterium that produces sores on the skin), infection can occur through direct contact with the sores.

How to detect it?

Early detection is key to prevent the bacteria from invading sensitive tissues, which could lead to more aggressive diseases such as STSS. A rapid diagnosis will allow health professionals to discriminate the viral or bacterial origin of the infection and prescribe the most appropriate treatment for the patient. Specifically, viral pharyngitis is more common than bacterial pharyngitis; however, antibiotics are often prescribed unnecessarily to combat it, which could trigger future resistance to certain strains of bacteria.

Conventional detection methods involve 24 or 48 hours of culture. OPERON offers the Simple Strep A rapid test for the detection of Steptococcus pyogenes from oropharyngeal swabs in only 10 minutes, very useful in primary patient care consultations.

Rapid test for the detection of streptococcus A

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