Basic Genetic Information
- Bacteria Colonies image by ggw from Fotolia.com
Scientists have split the Streptococcus bacteria into two basic groups: the Alpha-hemolytic strain, or "green strain," and the Beta-hemolytic strain. Streptococcus (Strep) Group C belongs to the latter, which scientists classify based on Lancefeld serotyping, or specific sets or subsets of carbohydrate structures located within the bacterial cell wall. Under a microscope, infected locations contain distinctly clear, wide areas outside the most populated bacterial colonies around the blood agar.
Beta Strep Group C in Humans
- Beta Strep Group C accounts for about 5 percent of all cases of strep infection in adult humans. The bacteria causes a condition known as "pharyngitis," an inflammation of the mucous membrane of the pharynx, or throat. When any Strep group causes pharyngitis, doctors usually characterize this condition to their patients by the more common, colloquial term of "strep throat."
The symptoms of strep throat caused by Beta Strep Group C in humans can range in severity from very mild to incredibly severe. Aside from the telling sore throat, its other symptoms include low to high fever, neck swelling, enlarged tonsils, hoarseness and even acute to moderate nausea. More severe symptoms include arthritis, pneumonia and even bacteremia--all of which could lead to toxic shock.
Diagnosis and Treatment
- A 2006 study from the University of Alabama explored issues and concerns with the current system of diagnosis of Beta Strep Group C. As it stands, rapid testing (the fastest, most common way doctors diagnosis strep throat if its symptoms present themselves) diagnoses only the most common Alpha strains of the bacteria. Beta Strep Group C is one of the most uncommon strains in humans, and its misdiagnosis can lead to more severe complications. If a patient shows symptoms of Strep infection but his rapid testing comes up negative, he should ask his doctor to test him for the less common, variant strains because his doctor will prescribe only the necessary antibiotics to combat a Strep infection should he test positive for any variant strain of Strep.
A simple treatment of antibiotics serves as the most effective way to treat Strep, and most patients will see the amelioriation of their symptoms within two to three days.
- All humans run the risk of infection from Beta Strep Group C. The most serious cases, however, arise in people with other medical complications, such as mononucleosis and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Age plays a factor as well because Beta Strep Group C most commonly infects people past age 75 years. Men contract the disease more than women.
Other Risk Groups
- Comparatively, doctors and scientists have not studied Beta Strep Group C as much as its more common cousins in the Alpha strain. While Beta Strep Group C is less common in humans, it is infinitely more common in other mammals, especially cattle and horses. A veterinarian should be consulted immediately about an animal suspected of having the bacterial infection.