Group A Streptococcal diseases: Risks and prevention

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Who is most at risk for Group A streptococcal diseases

Anyone can become infected with Group A streptococcal (GAS) bacteria. However, some individuals may be at a higher risk of developing symptoms of the infection, including invasive GAS (iGAS) disease. These may include:

  • People with breaks in the skin such as:
    • cuts
    • open sores
    • chickenpox
    • burns on the skin
  • People living with a chronic medical condition, including those with a weakened immune system
  • People living in a crowded environment
  • People with a recent viral infection such as influenza or chickenpox
  • People who inject drugs
  • People with alcohol use disorder
  • People who have had recent close contact with someone infected with GAS or iGAS
  • People in the late stages of pregnancy, or after delivery

Invasive GAS occurs more often in young children under 5 years of age and adults aged 65 years and older.

Preventing Group A streptococcal disease

It is always important to stay up to date with recommended vaccinations, including routine vaccines. It is important to stay up to date with influenza and chickenpox vaccines to help prevent iGAS.

To reduce the risk of getting and spreading GAS, as well as many other infections, it is important to:

  • clean your hands often, with soap and warm water or alcohol-based rub, especially
    • before eating or preparing food,
    • after coughing or sneezing, and
    • after using the bathroom or changing diapers
  • clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces and objects frequently
  • cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue or bend of the arm
  • wear a well-fitting respirator or mask in indoor public settings
  • improve indoor ventilation, such as opening a window or door
  • stay home when you are sick

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