Strep throat is an infection that occurs at any age, but is most frequent among school-aged children. Symptoms include fever, sore throat and tender/swollen neck glands. Not all sore throats are caused by strep, and most are viral. Strep should be diagnosed by a doctor. Throat cultures usually take 24 to 48 hours. Rapid strep tests can be used to diagnose strep within minutes. The strep bacterium is spread through direct contact with mucus from the nose or throat of infected persons or through the air by sneezing or coughing. People can spread the strep bacterium to others until 24 hours after antibiotic treatment or for 10 to 21 days if untreated. Strep can be treated with antibiotics. Treatment is important to prevent serious complications such as rheumatic fever and kidney disease. Infected children should be excluded from child care/school and infected food handlers should be excluded from work until 24 hours after starting treatment. To help reduce the chances of spreading strep throat, sneeze or cough into the crook of your arm, wash your hands after blowing your nose, and wash your hands before preparing food. See your doctor if you or your child develop symptoms of strep throat.

— Source: Maryland Department of Health’s Epidemiological & Disease Programs


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