Gram positive cocci, also known as streptococci, are known to cause numerous disorders, such as pharyngitis, skin infections, endocarditis and sepsis, and the symptoms will vary greatly depending on which vital organs are being affected, as reported by Merck Manuals. Fortunately, although streptococci have been known to affect a large number of different viral organs, most strains are sensitive to penicillin and can be killed off through its administration; however, macrolide-resistant strains have begun to emerge, and are a huge problem within the medical industry. Streptococci can be further classified into three distinct categories, which include alpha-hemolytic streptococci, beta-hemolytic streptococci and gamma-hemolytic streptococci.
To differentiate the three different types of streptococci, the strains are grown onto sheep blood agar in order to get a better look at their overall appearance. Alpha-hemolytic streptococci will be surrounded by a green discoloration that has resulted from incomplete hemolysis while beta-hemolytic streptococci will possess zones with clear hemolysis surrounding each colony. Gamma-hemolytic streptococci are non-hemolytic, and there should be no visible zones surrounding the colonies.
Alpha and beta-hemolytic streptococci generally cause pharyngitis and skin infections. Common symptoms will include a sore throat, fever and red and swollen pharynx. Common skin infections include impetigo and cellulitis. Lytic enzymes are a frequent source of pain.