Is Strep Throat Contagious?  

Female doctor examining young boy with strep throat

Strep throat is a very common illness that’s caused by group A Streptococcus (strep) bacteria. It’s highly contagious, particularly among children—kids and teens between the ages of 5 and 15 make up the majority of cases, although strep throat can also affect adults.

Group A strep bacteria reside in the nose and throat and are spread to others through respiratory droplets that are produced when an infected person coughs, speaks, or sneezes. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says it usually takes about two to five days after exposure to strep bacteria for a person to develop strep throat symptoms, and symptomatic individuals are the most contagious. The CDC also notes that:

  • Up to three in 10 children with a sore throat have strep throat
  • About one in 10 adults with a sore throat have strep throat

The Signs & Symptoms of Strep Throat

Strep throat is known to cause an intensely sore throat that develops rapidly. In addition to a sore throat, other possible signs and symptoms of strep throat include:

  • Fever
  • Painful swallowing
  • Swollen neck lymph nodes
  • Tonsils that are red and swollen, have white patches, or are streaked with pus
  • Tiny red spots on the roof of the mouth (petechiae)

If you or your child develops a cough, runny nose, or voice hoarseness, a viral infection such as a cold or the flu is more likely to blame for symptoms than strep throat.

How Long Does It Take for Children to Get Over Strep Throat?

Strep throat typically resolves in 10 days or less with timely antibiotic treatment and proper at-home care, such as getting plenty of rest and staying hydrated. Still, it’s common for a sore throat to linger for about two weeks, even with treatment. It’s important to keep your child at home until their fever goes away and they’ve been on antibiotics for at least 12 hours.

How to Prevent Strep Throat

There’s no definitive way to avoid catching or spreading strep throat or any other contagious illness. However, practicing a little common sense and maintaining good hygiene habits can go a long way. The CDC recommends that you:

  • Wash your hands with soap thoroughly and frequently, particularly after touching commonly used surfaces, coughing, or sneezing
  • Throw used tissues away immediately in a waste basket
  • Cough or sneeze into your elbow (instead of your hands) if you don’t have a tissue
  • Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer if you don’t have access to soap and water
  • Avoid sharing glasses, plates, and eating utensils with others

Strep Throat Treatment From PhysicianOne Urgent Care

For timely and convenient strep throat treatment any day of the year, turn to PhysicianOne Urgent Care. We offer strep throat testing and treatment to patients of all ages on a walk-in basis. Our urgent care locations in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New York are open 365 days per year during extended hours, so you can receive the expert medical guidance you need, right when you need it. Does your child want to stay snuggled in bed? If so, no worries—we’re pleased to offer a 24/7 telemedicine service that allows patients to connect with us from anywhere at any time.

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