Strep throat is a common and highly contagious infection caused by “streptococcal bacteria.” This bacteria causes swelling and inflammation of the mucous membranes that cover the back of the throat and tonsils. It is most prevalent in school-aged children and teenagers, between ages 5 and 15. Strep accounts for an estimated 15% to 40% of sore throat cases in the United States annually.
The most common symptoms of strep are:
Similar symptoms can be experienced with sore throats caused by viruses, that are not strep. Only a strep test can confirm a diagnosis.
Streptococcal bacteria are extremely contagious. It spreads through airborne droplets that are transmitted when an infected individual coughs or sneezes. It can also be spread through sharing drinks and food or by touching an infected surface, such as a doorknob or handrail, and then touching your face. Strep throat can occur at any time but it usually circulates in late fall and early spring.
No. Antibiotics will not help if a sore throat is caused by a virus rather than a bacterial infection. The most common type of sore throat caused by a bacterial infection is strep throat. Emily tests for strep. Patients who test positive are prescribed antibiotics, which usually work quite quickly in wiping out the infection.
Sore throats can be caused by viruses, allergies, and other bacterial infections. Exposure to secondhand cigarette smoke can also cause throat soreness, especially in young children.
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