Characteristics Beta-hemolytic Streptococci (Lancefield Groups)
S. pyogenes is a very important human pathogen. It is the major cause of strep throat. Scarlet fever is also caused
by S. pyogenes strains that produce erythrogenic toxin. Some strains of this microorganism are the infamous flesh-eating bacteria. They produce necrotizing enzymes that cause rapid and extensive destruction of tissue—a condition which is known as necrotizing fasciitis.
The toxic shock disease caused by S. pyogenes is technically called toxic shock–like syndrome (TSLS) and is caused by a toxin that is somewhat similar to the TSST-1 produced by S. aureus. However, the TSLS toxin is different. It is
called streptoccocal pyrogenic toxin (Spe).
S. pyogenes has not developed resistance to penicillin, so penicillin remains the drug of choice to treat
strep throat and most other S. pyogenes infections. Some strains of this microorganism developed resistance to erythromycin and many strains are resistant to tetracycline.