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Daily News Analysis


20th June, 2024 Health


Source: Indiatoday

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  • Streptococcal Toxic Shock Syndrome (STSS), commonly referred to as "flesh-eating bacteria," is a severe and rapidly progressing bacterial infection caused by certain strains of Group A Streptococcus (GAS).
  • Recently, Japan has seen a significant rise in STSS cases, highlighting the urgency of understanding its spread and prevention measures.


Etiology and Pathogenesis

  • Causative Agent
    • Group A Streptococcus (GAS): This bacterium typically resides in the throat and on the skin. It can cause various infections, ranging from mild conditions like strep throat to severe diseases like STSS.
  • Virulence Factors
    • Toxins: GAS produces toxins such as streptococcal pyrogenic exotoxins (SPEs) and superantigens, which trigger an exaggerated immune response.
    • Tissue Destruction: These toxins contribute to the rapid destruction of soft tissues, including muscles, fat, and skin.

How STSS Spreads

  • Transmission Routes
    • Respiratory Droplets: Infected individuals can spread GAS through coughing or sneezing.
    • Direct Contact: Touching contaminated surfaces or coming into direct contact with infected wounds can transmit the bacteria.
    • Food Contamination: Improperly handled food can also be a source of transmission if contaminated with GAS.
  • Contagiousness
    • While GAS can be transmitted through various routes, it is rare for someone with STSS to directly spread the infection to others. The focus is primarily on preventing initial GAS infections, which can lead to STSS in susceptible individuals.

Clinical Features of STSS

  • Early Symptoms
    • Fever and Chills: Often the initial signs of infection.
    • Muscle Aches: Generalized body pain.
    • Nausea and Vomiting: Gastrointestinal symptoms may accompany the infection.
  • Progression to Severe Illness
    • Shock: Rapidly developing low blood pressure (hypotension).
    • Organ Failure: Multiple organs, including kidneys, liver, and lungs, may fail due to the systemic effects of bacterial toxins.
    • Skin Changes: A characteristic sunburn-like rash may develop, followed by tissue necrosis.

Diagnosis and Treatment

  • Diagnostic Methods
    • Clinical Evaluation: Based on symptoms and physical examination findings.
    • Laboratory Tests: Blood cultures and other tests to identify GAS and assess organ function.
  • Treatment
    • Antibiotics: Prompt administration of antibiotics like penicillin to eradicate the bacterial infection.
    • Supportive Care: Includes fluid resuscitation, vasopressors for blood pressure support, and possibly dialysis for kidney failure.
    • Surgical Intervention: Surgical removal of necrotic tissue (debridement) may be necessary to control the infection.

Prevention Strategies

  • Hygiene Practices
    • Hand Hygiene: Regular handwashing with soap and water.
    • Respiratory Etiquette: Covering the mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing.
    • Wound Care: Immediate cleaning and proper dressing of wounds to prevent bacterial entry.
  • Public Health Measures
    • Surveillance: Monitoring and reporting cases to track outbreaks.
    • Education: Public awareness campaigns on recognizing symptoms and seeking medical attention promptly.




Q.  With reference to Streptococcal Toxic Shock Syndrome (STSS), consider the following statements:

  1. STSS is primarily caused by Streptococcus pyogenes, also known as Group A Streptococcus (GAS).
  2. One of the hallmark features of STSS is the rapid onset of hypotension and multi-organ failure.
  3. The main treatment for STSS involves antiviral medications and supportive care.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

a) 1 and 2 only
b) 1 and 3 only
c) 2 and 3 only
d) 1, 2, and 3

Answer: a)