Invasive Group A Streptococcal (GAS) Infection

  • Group A Streptococcus (GAS) bacteria may be found in the nose and throats of people who have no symptoms and never become ill.
  • In some individuals, the bacteria cause illnesses such as strep throat , scarlet fever, and impetigo .  These diseases are not invasive.
  • In rare cases, a severe and life-threatening infection may occur.   The bacteria may cause streptococcal toxic shock syndrome or necrotizing fasciitis, also known as “flesh-eating disease”. These are called invasive GAS infections.

Children with Invasive Group A Streptococcal infection should not return to daycare or school until antibiotics have been taken for at least 24 hours.

Signs and Symptoms

Symptoms may include fever, sore throat, rash, sores on the skin and flu-like illness.

In more invasive disease, the infection may cause very painful, red and hot swollen skin, extreme pain, blisters and change in skin colour.


The bacteria are spread by direct contact with saliva and nasal discharge of an infected person, or by direct contact with infected sores or cuts.

Casual contact rarely results in infection.

Treatment & Prevention

  • Good handwashing is the single most effective way to prevent the spread of infection. Encourage your child to wash their hands with soap and water, especially after coughing, sneezing, wiping their nose and before eating or preparing food.
  • Teach your child to cover his/her mouth when sneezing or coughing, and not to share food, drink, or eating utensils with others.
  • Watch your child for signs of skin infection (e.g. redness, swelling, pain).
  • If you think you child has invasive GAS infection, see a physician IMMEDIATELY.

Invasive GAS is a reportable disease and must be reported to the Local Medical Officer of Health under the Health Protection and Promotion Act.