Strep throat is a bacterial infection caused by Group A Streptococcus leading to a sore throat and fever. Most sore throats are caused by a virus, however, they are not strep throat. Sometimes a strep test is necessary to tell if the sore throat is caused by strep bacteria so that you can be treated appropriately. About 3 out of every 10 children with a sore throat have strep throat. It is common in school-age children.
Group A Streptococcus bacteria are very contagious. Generally, people spread the bacteria to others through respiratory droplets and/or direct contact.
Strep throat can spread to others until 12-24 hours after you begin taking antibiotics. During this time, avoid contact with other people at work, school, or home, especially infants and children. Do not sneeze or cough on others, and wash your hands often.
Typical symptoms take two to five days for someone exposed to group A strep to become ill with strep throat. It is hard to tell the difference between strep throat and a sore throat caused by a virus.
Look for these symptoms:
Features that are suggestive of a viral cause include cough, runny nose, hoarseness, pink eye.
Treatment can ease symptoms and may prevent future problems: