Streptococcus is a genus of spherical, Gram-positive bacteria of the phylum Firmicutes. These bacteria grow in chains or pairs, with cell division occurring only along one axis. In this sense they are contrasted with Staphylococcus, which divides along several axes, generating a "cluster" of cells, which resemble clusters of grapes. Though many people believe Streptococcus is a species and only causes strep throat, this is not true. The genus contains many species, most of which are pathogens, or disease causing organisms.
- Group A Streptococci (Streptococcus pyogenes) which causes Group A streptococcal infection(Strep Throat)
- Group B Streptococci (Streptococcus agalactiae), also known as GBS, which causes meningitis in neonates and the elderly, with occasional systemic bacteremia. They can also colonise the female reproductive tract, increasing the risk for premature rupture of membranes and transmission to the child. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have a website dedicated to GBS: Preventing Group B Strep Disease (http://www.cdc.gov/groupbstrep/)
- Group D Streptococci (S. durans, S. avium, S. bovis)
- Streptococcus pneumoniae which can cause pneumonia
- Streptococcus viridans group which cause endocarditis and dental abscesses.
Symptoms of Streptococcus pyogenes in adults include a fever, sore throat, and swollen glands in the neck. Children may experience a sore throat, rash, and abdominal pain. Doctors diagnose strep throat by taking a sample of material from the back of a patient's neck and sending it to be tested for bacterial infections of Streptoccocus pyogenes. Though the other species cause diseases too, strep throat and pneumonia are some of the most well known ones. If someone has pneumonia, they are experiencing the infections of the bacterium named Streptococcus pneumoniae.
Streptococcus are part of the normal flora of the mouth, skin, intestine and upper respiratory tract of humans.
Specific strains or species can be transmitted in several ways:
- Physical contact
- Using the same eating and drinking utensils as someone who has the bacteria
- Coughing, sneezing, or breathing on someone
- Touching the same doorknobs, faucets, etc.