It was seen that 5-15% of adults and 15-30% of children may be affected by pharyngitis, caused by the bacteria group A streptococci. Strep infections must be identified very quickly and treated with antibiotics at once. That is, because if not treated, the infection may lead to secondary complications, like rheumatic fever and glomerulonephritis. It is also important to remember that strep throat is very contagious, and can easily spread to close contacts.
In order to see if group A streptococci is the cause of the sore throat, the doctor will perform a rapid strep test, and then, he will know to prescribe the proper antibiotics to start the treatment. But there appear the possibility that the rapid test turns to be negative. In this situation, a culture to grow bacteria must be done. The results of this test are available in a few days, but it is known it has a higher accuracy then the rapid strep test. There must be done this second test, because the doctor cannot exclude the possibility of strep throat, until the laboratory performs a culture. The doctor will order this test, if there is present a sore throat and a fever, a swollen, tender neck, tonsils that appear red with white or yellow spots at the back of the throat, headache and loss of appetite.
It is known that strep throat spreads very easily from person to person, through contact with respiratory secretions. It was seen that flu can show similar symptoms like a strep throat, and we can mention here fever, chills, headache, sore throat, muscle pain. It is necessary to see clearly if there is a flu or a strep throat. So, there must be performed some tests: rapid strep test, and a rapid influenza test. If these tests turn negative, and clinical signs warrant it, there may still be necessary a blood test that evaluates the patient’s white blood cells, and blood cultures may be drawn, to exclude the risk of sepsis. It is known that sometimes, the symptoms showed above can appear because of a serious acute illness, septicemia- that means bacteria growing in the blood.
Starting a correct therapy is a necessary thing, and that is why there must be done some tests, to see exactly what infection we are dealing with. The diagnosis must be accurate and prompt. Many patients that are having streptococcal pharyngitis do not come to the doctor for treatment. They will recover as well, without antibiotic medication, but it is important to know that they will be contagious for a longer period of time, and they present an increased risk for developing complications.
Usually, strep throat appears in children aged 5 up to 10 years old. It is important to know that there are about 20% of the school children that have the bacteria, show no symptoms, but they can spread the infection to others.
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