Streptococcus pyogenes (Scarlet fever/Scarlatina)

Streptococcus pyogenes

What is Streptococcus pyogenes?

Streptococcus pyogenes are bacteria belonging to the species of gram-positive cocci, which are stored in chains and pairs. S. pyogenes are found almost exclusively in humans and are found all over the world. This type of bacteria can lead to the illness known as Scarlet fever/Scarlatina; however, the frequency of this illness depends on the season and the age of the germ carrier. Illness due to S. pyogenes occurs mainly in childhood, and during the seasons of winter and spring.
Even though humans are the reservoir for S. pyogenes, pets, such as dogs or cats, that are in close contact with infected humans can also become infected. The S. pyogenes bacteria can also survive for up to several months on dry surfaces in mucus or blood residues and continue to infect humans.

How is Streptococcus pyogenes transmitted?

Streptococci are usually transmitted via direct and indirect contact. They are also transmitted, more rarely, via infected droplets or contaminated food or water.

What are symptoms of the disease?

Scarlet fever/Scarlatina is an illness that usually manifests itself as sore throat, fever, chills and malaise, and, in children, also as abdominal pain and vomiting. However, the severity of the individual symptoms can vary among patients. The symptoms are accompanied by a characteristic rash (exanthema) consisting of small, thick, rose-colored patches of skin. This rash spreads from the palm of the hand to the soles of the feet. Subsequently, the skin becomes scaly at the affected areas. Other symptoms include a pallor in the mouth and chin area and a yellowish white coating with red papillae may initially cover the tongue.

Significance for infections in hospitals and in the outpatient sector

The occurrence of Streptococcus pyogenes infections in hospitals requires special hygiene measures. Accommodation of infected patients in an isolation room using basic hygiene is recommended.

In some countries, such as Germany and parts of UK, medical practitioners should notify cases of scarlet fever to the Public Health Agency to allow identification of clusters or outbreaks and enable any further public health action.

Survival time of pathogens on inanimate surfaces

3 days to 6.5 months

Disinfectant effectiveness for prevention

The required spectrum of action against Streptococcus pyogenes is: bactericidal

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