How Long Is Strep Throat Contagious?
Strep throat is a common infection caused by bacteria called Streptococcus pyogenes. People get it from contact with infected people or objects (i.e., hands, faces, etc.) or through contaminated food and water. It usually doesn’t cause any problems unless the person gets very sick and develops severe diarrhea or other complications such as pneumonia.
The incubation period for strep throat is between 3 and 7 days. During this time, the germs are dormant until they have a chance to multiply and spread disease.
They then become active again when the person becomes ill. For example, if someone has a cold sore after three days, the germs will be inactive at that point. However, within two weeks of getting sick with strep throat, the germs will begin multiplying again and start spreading disease again.
There are many different types of strep bacteria. Some strains can cause milder infections while others can lead to life-threatening illnesses like meningitis or sepsis.
When people contract one type of strep, they may develop another strain later on without even knowing it. There is no way to tell which type of strep is causing the illness, so doctors use a combination of tests to diagnose the condition.
Strep bacteria can enter the body through open wounds in the skin or by way of a mucous membrane. This means that people who have cuts or abrasions might be more susceptible to an infection.
It also explains why children pick up strep throat more often as they are more likely to get skin abrasions from falls or minor accidents.
Strep Throat In Adults And Children
The first symptoms of strep throat usually start off like a regular sore throat. Other symptoms may include:
Earache or pain in the arms, legs, and abdomen
Fever above 100 degrees Fahrenheit
Irritability or sadness in children
Swollen lymph nodes
Vomiting or diarrhea (Could be a sign of a different illness)
Over-the-counter pain relievers can help control the pain and reduce swelling. Drinking plenty of fluids is also important to prevent dehydration.
Rest is also recommended to help the body fight off the infection.
If strep throat is left untreated, some people may develop rheumatic fever which causes permanent heart damage. Others may develop kidney disease or arthritis from the strain on the body.
Antibiotics are the most common treatment for strep throat. They can help fight the infection and prevent complications from developing.
If someone shows signs of a severe infection, hospitalization may be necessary to receive intravenous antibiotics through a needle directly into the blood stream.
If someone doesn’t show any signs of a severe infection, doctors may prescribe an antibiotic called penicillin that can be taken orally at home.
What Are The Long-Term Effects Of Strep Throat?
The long-term effects of strep throat are rare, but they can be serious. Someone who has had rheumatic fever may experience pain in the joints, heart problems, or seizures later in life. Arthritis or other joint pain is also a possibility if the disease has affected the person’s joints. Sometimes kidney problems or other autoimmune disorders may develop if the body begins attacking itself.
Preventing Strep Throat
The best way to prevent strep throat is to get vaccinated against the disease. The vaccine is usually given in a five dose series before a child enters kindergarten.
The vaccine is effective for ten years. People who have missing or incomplete vaccinations are at risk of getting the illness, especially if they come in contact with someone who has it.
Even if someone has the vaccination, they are still susceptible to complications.
Anyone can get a strep infection. However, people who have compromised immune systems are at higher risk of developing complications from the disease.
This includes people with HIV/AIDS or cancer; people receiving chemotherapy; people with other long-term illnesses; and pregnant women. If someone doesn’t know their medical history, they should ask their doctor about being tested for strep throat if they experience symptoms.
If you think you or someone you know has strep throat, it’s important to see a doctor right away. Since the disease can lead to serious and even life-threatening problems, it’s important to make a prompt diagnosis.
While strep throat is highly treatable with antibiotics, people may experience complications if they are left untreated.
Sources & references used in this article:
Strep Throat by E Landau – 2011 – pdfs.semanticscholar.org
Spreading Disease–It’s Contagious! Using a Model & Simulations to Understand How Antibiotics Work by EM Ogens, R Langheim – The American Biology Teacher, 2016 – online.ucpress.edu
Topic Overview What is psoriasis? by …, ED Lewis, BC Lewis, PNPO Staff, I Virus, S Throat – lewispediatrics.com
The contagious factor in the etiology of rheumatic fever by WRF Collis – American Journal of Diseases of Children, 1932 – jamanetwork.com
Duration of the infection in scarlet fever by PS RHOADS, GUYP YOUMANS… – Annals of internal …, 1950 – acpjournals.org
Taking chances with strep throat by K McMurray, M Garber – Hospital pediatrics, 2015 – Am Acad Pediatrics
Infection control and prevention:” When can my child return to school?” by PF Bass III – Contemporary Pediatrics, 2016 – go.gale.com