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Strep Throat

Doctor examing young girl's throat

Strep throat is a bacterial infection caused by group A Streptococcus or “group A strep.”  In addition to a sore throat, symptoms can include pain when swallowing, a fever of 101 degrees or above, red and swollen tonsils, tiny red spots on the roof of the mouth, or swollen lymph nodes in the front of the neck. Your doctor can do a quick strep test to see if group A strep bacteria are causing your sore throat. If the test is positive, your doctor can prescribe antibiotics. Antibiotics help you feel better sooner, prevent serious health problems, and help prevent spreading the infection to others.

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Key Facts

  • Strep throat is an infection in the throat and tonsils caused by group A Streptococcus bacteria (called “group A strep”). However, most sore throats are caused by viruses, not bacteria.
  • Group A strep bacteria spread through contact with droplets from an infected person’s cough or sneeze. If you touch your mouth, nose, or eyes after touching something that has these droplets on it, you may become ill.
  • No one can diagnose strep throat just by looking at your throat. Doctors can swab your throat to see if you have strep throat.
  • People with strep throat should stay home from work, school, or daycare until they no longer have a fever and have taken antibiotics for at least 24 hours.
  • Antibiotics taken for strep throat reduce the length of time you’re sick, prevent long-term health problems, and help prevent spreading the infection to friends and family members.

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Prevention Tips

  • Wash your hands often.
  • Cover your mouth when coughing or sneezing.
  • Do not drink from the same glass, eat from the same plate, or share utensils with someone who has strep throat or is sick.
  • If you have strep throat, stay home from work, school, or daycare until you no longer have a fever and have taken antibiotics for at least 24 hours. This will help keep others from getting sick.

More at CDC.gov

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