Strep is short for Streptococcus, which is a type of bacteria that can cause a variety of infections in humans. The most common type of Streptococcus bacteria that causes infections in humans is called group A streptococcus (GAS).
GAS can be spread from person to person through respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes. It can also be spread through contact with an infected person’s skin or by touching surfaces contaminated with the bacteria.
Infections caused by GAS can range from mild illnesses such as strep throat and impetigo (a skin infection), to more severe infections such as cellulitis (a skin and tissue infection), necrotizing fasciitis (a rare but serious infection that affects the tissue under the skin), and streptococcal toxic shock syndrome (a potentially life-threatening condition).
It’s important to note that not all cases of strep infections are caused by GAS. There are other types of streptococcal bacteria that can cause infections as well, such as group B streptococcus (GBS), which can cause infections in newborns and pregnant women.