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Strep A and B
February 2002

Q. What is the difference between Strep A and Strep B? How does one get it and how is it spread?

A. "Strep" refers to a particular bacteria that can cause illness in humans. The full name is Streptococcus, and there are several different bacteria within the Strep family, not all of which cause problems. The most common example in humans is "Strep throat" caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae, type A. The type A Strep requires antibiotic treatment as it can cause complications including Rheumatic fever which can damage heart valves, and kidney inflammation. Group B Strep does not cause sore throats, but is a cause of other human illness. It can be transmitted to newborn infants during delivery and result in pneumonia, meningitis, and other serious infection. This complication is rare (estimated 1 in 500 deliveries) but obviously quite serious.



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