Although Streptococcus pyogenes is found in the upper respiratory tract of many people, sometimes (virulent strains or weakened hosts) it causes the disease known as strep throat. In addition to a sore throat, this may lead to tonsillitis, and in some cases ear infections (otitis media). If not treated, some strains produce a toxin leading to damage of small blood vessels, a fever, and a rash, a disease known as scarlet fever. A few strains may produce rheumatic fever, which can lead to heart, kidney, and joint damage.
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