iGAS or Invasive Group A Strep


Group A Streptococci are bacteria that you may carry in your throat or on your skin. They may not cause you to be sick. Most of the time Group A Strep only causes mild illness. This includes strep throat.

If you have strep throat, you may have a fever, sore throat, tender neck glands and swollen tonsils. You may also get an ear infection. If you have these symptoms, contact a doctor.

Once in a while, these bacteria can cause more severe infections.  This happens when the bacteria gets into your blood, lungs or muscles. This is called Invasive Group A Strep, or iGAS.

The rarest, but most serious forms of iGAS, are:

  • streptococcal toxic shock-like syndrome
  • Necrotizing fasciitis, often called flesh-eating disease.

What are the signs and symptoms of iGAS?

The symptoms of iGAS depend on the part of your body that is infected. These can happen very quickly. You may have:

  • fever, chills
  • redness around a wound that spreads
  • severe pain, swelling of the skin
  • rapid breathing
  • dizziness, confusion

You can find more details about the signs of iGAS in our Group A Strep Fact Sheet or les streptocoques du groupe A (SGA).

If you have any of these symptoms, go to a doctor right away.

How is iGAS spread?

Group A Streptococcus (GAS) is spread by being in very close contact with someone who is sick with iGAS. It can be spread when a sick person coughs or sneezes, by open mouth kissing or doing mouth to mouth resuscitation, by being in contact with open sores on the body, and through sharing needles.

It is not likely that household items like plates, cups or toys spread the infection.

Can iGAS be treated?

Yes, it can be treated. Antibiotics are a very effective way to treat bacterial infections. In some cases, you may need surgery as well as antibiotics.

Can I get iGAS?

Although healthy people can develop invasive Group A Streptococcal disease, it is rare. Older people, people with open sores, and anyone with ongoing medical issues are more likely to get severe iGAS.

Does iGAS happen very often?

The most severe iGAS diseases (toxic shock-like syndrome and flesh-eating disease) are rare.

Is there a vaccine for this disease?

There is no vaccine available to prevent this infection.

What do I do if am close to someone with IGAS?

It is very rare that you will get iGAS after you are exposed. However, you may need to watch for any signs of infection or be treated with antibiotics. You can call the Health Unit or your doctor to find out what you need to do.

How can I protect myself?

The best thing to do is wash your hands well and often. Wash your hands after you sneeze or cough, before you prepare food, and before eating.

If you have a sore throat, go to a doctor to find out if you have strep throat. If the tests show you do have strep throat, you should stay home until you have taken a full day (24 hours) of your antibiotics. Keep all wounds or sores clean.

Watch for any signs of infection, such as: redness, swelling, drainage, or pain where you have a wound. If you or someone you know have these symptoms, especially if with a fever, get medical attention right away.

North Bay

345 Oak Street West

Parry Sound

70 Joseph Street Unit #302

Burk's Falls

17 Copeland Street (by appointment only)