Government of New Brunswick

Group A Streptococcus is a common bacteria that causes a number of different infections in people of all ages, such as strep throat, sinus infections, skin or wound infections, and fever and rash (scarlet fever). Often, the symptoms will mimic those caused by other respiratory illnesses. These conditions are common, with most illnesses being mild in nature.

However, in some cases, an infection can lead to more severe disease, which is referred to as Invasive Group A Streptococcal (iGAS). This is when bacteria gets into parts of the body where bacteria or viruses aren’t usually found, such as in the blood, joints, deep muscles or fat tissues, or lungs. These infections can be quite severe, but fortunately they do not happen very often.


What is happening in New Brunswick?

iGAS is a reportable disease in New Brunswick. That means it’s tracked, and individual cases and contacts are managed by Public Health staff to reduce the risk of ongoing spread.

Because of this reporting, the Department of Health is able track disease trends over time. We saw an increase in Group A Streptococcal (GAS) and Invasive Group A Streptococcal (iGAS) infections in 2023 as compared to previous years. We continue to monitor this situation closely.

Most other provinces, and many other countries around the globe, are seeing similar increases in activity


When should you seek medical advice?

If you do not have symptoms, you do not need to be assessed or tested.

Public Health recommends that New Brunswickers get assessed by a health-care provider if the following are present:

  • Signs of skin infection (red, painful, swollen, or fluid is draining);
  • A sore throat that continues to worsen over the course of a few days and is accompanied by fever, and does NOT include symptoms of a viral infection, such as cough, runny nose, or hoarseness. (Sore throats are common, especially at this time of year, however not all sore throats need to be assessed by a health-care provider.):
  • Other signs and symptoms of concern, such as:
    • a fever lasting more than three days (or a fever that has passed and then returns);
    • difficulty breathing;
    • white or blue lips;
    • difficulty waking up or confused;
    • if someone is very ill and deteriorating quickly.

In addition, if a parent looking after a sick child feels that something isn’t right with their child, they should follow their instincts and contact a health-care provider.


Where can individuals be assessed?

Assessment options for Group A strep are available:

  • Through appointments with primary-care providers;
  • At after-hours clinics;
  • By accessing the eVisitNB virtual service, which will assess patients for Group A strep.
  • By calling 811 to speak to a registered nurse, who can refer patients to a primary care provider for assessment and treatment.
  • There is also a Pharmacist Care Clinic pilot project at six locations in the province that includes assessment for Group A strep and providing treatment when necessary. (Please note that there are limited appointments available at those six participating pharmacies. Please be patient.)

Further information about accessing health care is available online at this link.


What can you do to reduce your risks?

We know that viral infections can increase your risk of invasive infections by GAS. Even though there isn’t a vaccine available for GAS, you can help to reduce your risk of serious infection by staying up to date on your vaccines for viruses like COVID-19, influenza and chickenpox (varicella).

There are also a number of other things people can do to reduce their risk of GAS infections. Many are the same recommendations as those for other respiratory viruses, such as washing your hands regularly, wearing a well-fitting mask when in crowded places, and staying home when sick.

In addition, avoiding contact with saliva or respiratory secretions by not sharing straws, cups and utensils, etc., and keeping cuts and wounds clean and covered, can help prevent respiratory viruses


Strep Throat vs Sore Throat

How can you tell the difference?

Strep Throat:

Caused by: Bacteria called Group A Streptococcus (Group A Strep)


  • Fever
  • VERY painful throat, especially when swallowing
  • Continues to worsen over a few days
  • Often accompanied by: red and swollen tonsils with white patches, swollen glands on neck


  • Antibiotics

Sore Throat:

Caused by: Viruses, Allergens, Bacteria


  • Fever
  • Sore or painful throat when swallowing
  • Often accompanied by: cough, runny nose, congestion, hoarseness


  • Gargle with warm salt water (1 to 5 salt-to-water ratio) to reduce swelling and discomfort
  • Sip warm liquids, such as honey and lemon tea, or a broth soup
  • Use a humidifier to create a warm or cool mist
  • Medicated throat lozenges
  • Throat spray with phenol
  • Over the counter pain relievers