A review of streptococcus pyogenes: Public health risk factors, prevention and control

Nelly Janira Avire, Harriet Whiley, Kirstin Ross

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

    54 Citations (Scopus)
    1209 Downloads (Pure)


    Streptococcus pyogenes, (colloquially named “group A streptococcus” (GAS)), is a pathogen of public health significance, infecting 18.1 million people worldwide and resulting in 500,000 deaths each year. This review identified published articles on the risk factors and public health prevention and control strategies for mitigating GAS diseases. The pathogen causing GAS diseases is commonly transmitted via respiratory droplets, touching skin sores caused by GAS or through contact with contaminated material or equipment. Foodborne transmission is also possible, although there is need for further research to quantify this route of infection. It was found that GAS diseases are highly prevalent in developing countries, and among indigenous populations and low socioeconomic areas in developed countries. Children, the immunocompromised and the elderly are at the greatest risk of S. pyogenes infections and the associated sequelae, with transmission rates being higher in schools, kindergartens, hospitals and residential care homes. This was attributed to overcrowding and the higher level of social contact in these settings. Prevention and control measures should target the improvement of living conditions, and personal and hand hygiene. Adherence to infection prevention and control practices should be emphasized in high‐risk settings. Resource distribution by governments, especially in developed countries, should also be considered.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number248
    Pages (from-to)1-18
    Number of pages18
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 22 Feb 2021


    • GAS
    • Group A strep
    • Group A streptococcus
    • Infection control
    • Management
    • Policy
    • Risk assessment
    • Strep A
    • Streptococcus pyogenes


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