Streptococcus A

Streptococcus A (Strep A) is a common contagious bacterium (germ) that can cause a range of mild and serious illnesses in children.

Many children with Strep A infection experience a sore throat (strep throat) and skin sores (impetigo). These are usually not severe if treated early and the infection responds to antibiotics.

But if mild Strep A infections aren’t treated, a child can develop rheumatic fever. This can cause painful and inflamed joints, hot and cold chills and shortness of breath. In some cases, rheumatic fever can damage the heart valves and lead to rheumatic heart disease (RHD).

In other serious cases, Strep A bacteria can also spread into the bloodstream and cause severe sepsis (blood poisoning), including streptococcal toxic shock syndrome.

Researchers are working to develop a vaccine to help stop children across the world suffering from serious health consequences due to Strep A infection.



Who does it affect?

Who does it affect?

Our Streptococcus A research

Our Streptococcus A research

We are coordinating world efforts to develop a vaccine against Strep A alongside The International Vaccine Institute (IVI). IVI and MCRI established an international consortium, led by The Telethon Kids Institute in Perth, to pool wisdom and resources to fast-track discovery and development. We’re currently working with the World Health Organization to promote the development of vaccine candidates and will soon begin   two in human volunteers. We’ll give vaccines to healthy adults who will have Strep A painted on their throats to see if they develop strep throat.

We’re establishing registers for acute rheumatic fever and RHD in Victoria to update health professionals on the care and prevention of acute fever and disease. They will support them in providing regular follow-up of patients and assist relatives in caring for their children. 

We’re involved in developing a plan to end RHD in Australia by 2031 working in a national collaboration, the End Rheumatic Heart Disease Centre of Research Excellence.

After establishing paediatric surveillance for invasive Strep A infection and expanding it to paediatric centres nationwide, we’re driving efforts to create a national surveillance system to improve outcomes and inform vaccine development.

We’re examining the effect of viruses on the growth and transmission of Strep A as recent evidence implicates viruses.

Our vision

Our vision

Our goal is to eradicate deadly Strep A infections by developing vaccines. This will prevent hundreds of thousands of deaths annually from rheumatic heart disease, toxic shock and other conditions, plus debilitating disease that reduces quality of life causing breathlessness or loss of limbs.