Strep Viridans: Infection & Treatment

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  • 0:03 Understanding Strep Viridians
  • 1:20 Strep Viridians Infection
  • 2:47 Treatment
  • 4:22 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Artem Cheprasov

Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

What are the Strep viridans? It turns out they can be innocent, or they can be deadly. They are also becoming harder to treat. Find out what this is all about in this lesson.

Understanding Strep Viridans

This morning, you probably brushed your teeth. After brushing, you may have noticed that your mouth looked and felt clean. But the truth is, even if it's clean to your eyes, it's actually chock-full of bacteria. One of the types of bacteria located within your mouth is a group of bacteria called Strep viridans, which is short for Streptococcus viridans or viridans streptococci. Streptococci is a term that implies the bacteria tend to look like chains under a microscope.

Strep viridans are actually a commensal group of bacteria. Commensal means they live on or in a person and derive a benefit, like a source of food or just a home, but they do not help nor harm us in return.

The viridans streptococci are normally found in:

  • The mouth. This is their main place of residence.
  • The upper respiratory tract, which includes the nose.
  • The gastrointestinal system, which is our digestive tract. They are found throughout this system.
  • The genitourinary tract, or the one involving our urinary system and genitals, namely in women.

On occasion, they can be found on our skin as well. Now let's look at how these bacteria can sometimes cause issues.

Strep Viridans Infection

Now, I need to note something important right away. A commensal organism, even though under normal circumstances does not hurt nor help a person, can sometimes turn nasty and hurt us. That usually happens when a person is immunocompromised. This means their immune system, the police force and army of the body, is weak.

Just like some people are too scared to attack a strong person and will only attack a weaker person, some commensal organisms don't dare take on a strong person and only strike when that person is down and out for the count, so to speak. The viridans streptococci normally do not harm healthy people but may cause disease in people with compromised immune systems.

There are various such infections and consequent diseases that these bacteria may cause. These include:

  • Endocarditis, or the inflammation of the inner lining of the heart. This can damage the heart's valves and lead to heart failure.
  • Shock, which can cause multiple organ failure because these organs do not receive enough blood in this condition.
  • Intra-abdominal infection, or infection within the abdomen.
  • Meningitis, or inflammation of the meninges, a protective layer of the brain and spinal cord. This can be life threatening.
  • Pneumonia, or inflammation of the lungs, as a result of bacteria in this case. This can also be deadly if left untreated.

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