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 conditions or factors may put you at higher risk of developing symptoms or of progressing into invasive GAS (iGAS) disease. These may include:

  • having breaks in the skin such as:
    • cuts
    • open sores
    • chickenpox
    • burns on the skin
  • having a chronic disease
  • living in a crowded or unsanitary environment
  • being ill or having a weakened immune system
  • substance abuse, including use of injectable drugs
  • recent close contact with someone infected with GAS or iGAS

Preventing Group A streptococcal disease

Hand washing helps reduce the spread of all types of GAS disease, mainly:

  • before eating
  • before preparing food
  • after coughing and sneezing

To protect others, you should cough or sneeze into the bend of your arm, not your hand.  You can also use tissues, but throw them away as soon as you use them.

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