Since the dawn of time, bacteria have made their presence known on the earth on a unimaginable scale. Such a profileration of microbes, has put the human race as we know it, at risk to an assortment array of diseases. Taylor estimates about "one half of all human diseases are caused by pathogenic bacteria that invade the body and destroy the immune system defenses to ward off harmful microorganisms" (1). Over the years, rheumatic fever, a disease which chiefly strikes children and young adults has been kept in check through the use of antibiotics. The causative agent for this disease is found in the Class: Schizomycetes, Order: Eubacteria, Genus: Streptococcus, Species: Streptococcus pyogenes. we will briefly examine the bacterial morphology, disease and medical break throughs in combating this illness. With this in mind, let us examine the morphology of this particular strain of bacteria.
In general, Streptococci are characterized as gram positive, nonmotile, facultative anaerobes which measure 0.5-1.0 micrometers in diameter. S. pyogenes is said to be the only beta hemolytic streptococcus that is primarily of human origin (2). This strain of bacteria can not only be found in the pharynx, but it is also found on the skin and rectum as well. It should be noted that the Alpha-hemolytic type species produce a substance called alpha-hemolysin that reduces hemoglobin to methemoglobin (green). At the present time, there are no reliable tests that can be used to ascertain S. pyogenes from the other streptococci strain. .
Rheumatic fever, by definition is a complication of a bacterial upper respiratory infection. The fever is brought on after a sudden streptococcal infection of the throat. The disease is manifested by subcutaneous nodules at the joints, arthritis like symptoms, and cardiac involvement including heart murmurs, increased heart beat, heart enlargement; inflammation of the heart muscle and supporting structures which may lead to a permanent scarring thus decreasing an individual's life expectancy.