Strep throat streptococcal pharyngitis A

bacterial throat infection caused by group A beta-hemolytic Streptococcus, a circular bacterium also known as Streptococcus pyogenes. Only group-A strep causes the infection known as strep throat; most kinds of sore throats are not strep.

Strep throat occurs all over the world, usually affecting school-age children in winter and spring in the temperate zones of North America. Some people seem to have a tendency toward multiple strep throat infections, while others rarely come down with the disease. It is rare in youngsters under age three.

Because there are many types of group-A strep bacteria, one bout of strep throat does not confer long-term immunity; patients can therefore come down with repeated episodes. Adults may be immune to some types of group-A strep and therefore have fewer infections.

Cause While some people carry group A strep in their throats and nasal passages, they remain healthy; however, they can spread the infection to others, as can those who are actively ill. However, you cannot catch strep throat from touching the clothing of an infected person. A sneeze or a cough can project the organisms up to two feet, so it spreads easily in schools and group living situations.

Some epidemics have been traced to infected health care workers in operating rooms and to infected food handlers; other outbreaks have occurred by eating contaminated food.

Patients are most infectious in the beginning of the illness; untreated, a patient is infectious for 10 days to 3 weeks. Carriers are infectious for two to three weeks, although the bacteria may be carried in nose and throat for weeks to several months. Those who receive penicillin are no longer infectious after 24 hours. This means that a child with strep can go back to school or child care one to two days after receiving penicillin, if they feel well and have no fever.

Symptoms Up to half of all children with strep throat have no symptoms but are considered healthy carriers. In those who do have symptoms, they will appear within one to three days after infection. Young children often have high fevers and red, swollen throats, but their throats are actually less painful than those of adults with the same infection. A few children (1 in 10) become quite ill, with extremely high fevers, nausea, and vomiting. Such a severe reaction is rare, however. Most people have a sore throat, fever, and pain in swallowing.

A strep throat is different from a run-of-the-mill sore throat that comes along with a cold or the flu. With strep throat, there is no runny nose or cough, and symptoms appear abruptly with a fever as high as 104 degrees F, headache, stomach ache, and a red, swollen throat. By the second day, the throat and tonsils may be covered with white or yellow patches that spread together to cover the entire throat. However, it is possible to have a strep throat without these telltale white patches, or even without a fever.

Most people also have swollen lymph glands in the front of the neck, just below the point where the ear and jawbone meet. These glands may remain swollen for up to a month after recovery from the infection.

Diagnosis Because almost all of the symptoms of strep throat also can occur with viral infections, lab tests are needed to confirm the diagnosis. Anyone who suspects strep throat should see a doctor for a throat culture or rapid test. A throat culture is the best, most accurate test. Rapid strep tests are

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