Parent Information

Strep Throat

"Strep throat" is the commonly used term to describe an infection of the throat with Group A Streptococcus.  The classic presentation of strep throat occurs in a school-age child with a sore throat that appears bright red on examination.  Fever, headache, abdominal pain, enlarged lymph nodes, and vomiting may accompany strep throat.  Some children will have a pink sandpaper-like rash on the face, trunk, arms and groin; this is called "scarlet fever".  Strep throat is unusual under three years of age and does not cause congestion or cough.

If your doctor has a strong suspicion that your child has strep throat, a "rapid" strep test will be done.  This test consists of a chemical reaction that detects the presence of Streptococcus.  It is approximately 96% accurate in detecting the presence of the bacteria.  Since 3-5% of strep throat will be missed by the rapid test, all children with negative rapid tests automatically have throat cultures performed.

If the rapid strep test or the throat culture is positive, your child will be placed on ten days of antibiotics.  We do not routinely place children with negative rapid strep tests on antibiotics before the culture results are available.  If your child's throat culture is positive, you will be called by our office staff between 9 and 11 am on the day the results are available.  You will not be called if the culture is negative.

A child with strep throat is contagious until he or she has been on antibiotics for a minimum of 24 hours.  Before returning to school, a child should be fever free and on antibiotics for 24 hours.

If your child has a persistent fever and/or continues to complain of a sore throat after 72 hours of antibiotics, you should contact our office.  A rash, if present, may persist for days.  If after ten days of medication and being off antibiotics for more than 48 hours, your child has a recurrence of symptoms, you should have him or her rechecked in our office.  Research has shown that in almost all cases a relapse of symptoms represents a newly acquired strep infection, not treatment failure.

Household contacts of a child with strep throat need to be examined and cultured only if they have symptoms of strep throat.

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