Perhaps the one good thing about strep is that it is caused by a bacterium and therefore can be treated with antibiotics—whereas viral infections can’t. But in spite of how common and widespread this contagious illness is, there might be things that you don’t know about strep.
- Strep throat can infect almost anyone but is most prevalent among school age kids. It is quite uncommon under the age of 2 years.
- While there are peak periods of Strep in spring and fall, the bacteria are always present and kids can be infected anytime during the year.
- Strep has a short incubation period and symptoms can occur in 1 to 3 days of exposure.
- Strep bacteria can infect other body parts like rectum, scrotum, and vagina.
- Untreated Strep throat can become dangerous and cause scarlet fever, rheumatic fever, and pneumonia.
- Rheumatic fever can permanently damage heart valves, kidney tissue and joints.
- The classic symptom of Strep infection is a very sore throat, fever, headache and nausea with vomiting. We sometimes also see a sandpaper rash in association with Strep.
- The tonsils are usually enlarged and quite red as is the throat. There may be pus on the tonsils and commonly there are red spots on the soft palate
- When a body part other than the throat is infected, the area can be bright red with pain and/or itching.
DIAGNOSIS AND TREATMENT
- To positively identify Strep, the infected area must be swabbed and cultured. There is a Rapid Strep test that gives a reading in 10 minutes and a culture that is read 48 hours later. PYAM doctors frequently do both at the same time, because they know that some forms of Strep might need the full 48 hours to show up.
- All strep cultures will be read at 24 and again at 48 hours. Parents will be notified if the culture becomes positive.
- Your PYAM doctor will prescribe the best antibiotic for your child.
- Is your child’s sore throat strep or viral? The only way to know for certain is a culture.
- Wash hands thoroughly with soap and water before eating or preparing foods.
- Keep all toothbrushes separated.
- A child or an adult diagnosed with Strep should avoid school or work until 24 hours after starting on antibiotics.