Strep throat is a particularly common infection, but it can still be dangerous if not treated properly. 

In fact, a total of nine Ontario residents have died from invasive streptococcus infections over the past 18 months, and 132 cases have been reported as well. Some of those infected have suffered from serious symptoms like Streptococcal Toxic Shock Syndrome and necrotizing fasciitis, or flesh-eating disease.

The outbreak has mostly been centralized in London, where health officials are still trying to understand the cause of it. However, infections are steadily on the rise in Toronto and the GTA. Though they have determined that more than half the cases were among intravenous drug users, there has still been an increase in infections among people not part of that group. 

In response to these findings, the Middlesex-London Health Unit has issued a public health alert to warn people of the deadly bug.

via @matthewtrevithick

The bacteria responsible for strep throat is called Group A streptococcus (GAS). While most people who are infected with the bacteria only experience mild illnesses, others may catch a more virulent strain that causes them to get really sick in a short amount of time. 

More serious cases result in Streptococcal Shock Syndrome, where the bacteria secretes a toxin into the blood stream that causes multiple organ failures as it travels throughout the body. It can also cause necrotizing fasciitis, in which the bacteria infiltrates a muscle and causes it to deteriorate.

Strep A is not airborne and is instead caught when an individual has direct contact with nose, mouth or throat secretions of another infected individual. Health officials advise citizens to wash hands regularly, avoid sharing drinks and utensils and keeping open wounds bandaged.

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