Australia’s active hospital-based surveillance for severe childhood disease


Principal investigator 

Associate Professor Nigel Crawford

The group A streptococcus (GAS) bacteria is a common infective agent in children and adults that causes the widest range of clinical disease in humans of any bacterium. The spectrum of GAS disease can be divided into superficial, invasive, toxin mediated and post-infectious diseases. The most common infections caused by GAS are superficial, pharyngitis and pyoderma, which occur particularly in children. Invasive diseases are less common but have high rates of mortality and long-term morbidity. They include bacteraemia, including toxic shock syndrome, necrotising fasciitis and meningitis.

Currently there is no vaccine to prevent invasive group A streptococcal infection. The streptococcal M protein that is used as the substrate for epidemiological typing is the major virulence factor of group A streptococcus and is a key vaccine target. There are over 220 variants of this protein described.

Surveillance of invasive group A streptococcus (IGAS) disease began as a pilot at The Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne in 2015, and was rolled out nationally to all PAEDS sites in 2016.