Streptococcal sore throat - including symptoms, treatment and prevention
Streptococcal sore throat is a bacterial infection of the throat and tonsils caused by Streptococcus pyogenes.
How Streptococcal sore throat is spread
Streptococci are spread when an infected person talks, coughs or sneezes small droplets containing infectious agents into the air. The droplets in the air may be breathed in by those nearby. The droplets may contaminate hands or objects such as drinking cups or eating utensils. Sometimes spread occurs by eating contaminated food. Sometimes spread occurs by direct contact with infected wounds or skin sores.
Signs and symptoms
- sore throat
- tender, swollen glands in the neck.
Complications of this infection may include:
All the symptoms of throat infection plus a fine red rash, which first appears as tiny red bumps on the chest and abdomen. This rash may then spread all over the body. It looks like sunburn and feels like a rough piece of sandpaper. It is usually more red in the armpits and groin areas. The rash lasts about 2 to 5 days. There is often also reddening of the tongue and the bumps on the tongue appear larger than usual, causing an appearance known as ‘strawberry tongue’. After the rash is gone, often the skin on the tips of the fingers and toes begins to peel
An abscess (collection of pus) next to a tonsil.
- Rheumatic fever
Rheumatic fever is a rare complication. Fever, joint pain and a skin rash develop soon after a sore throat. Later, inflammation of the heart (rheumatic carditis), or shaking and unsteadiness (Sydenham’s chorea or St Vitus’ dance) may occur.
- Inflammation and reduced function of the kidney
A rare complication.
Diagnosis is made by culture, or sometimes other tests, of a throat swab. A sore throat may also be caused by a viral infection and culture of a throat swab is the only way to distinguish between the two conditions.
(time between becoming infected and developing symptoms)
1 to 3 days.
(time during which an infected person can infect others)
Untreated people remain infectious for 2 to 3 weeks after becoming ill. Treated people are infectious for about 24 hours after appropriate antibiotic treatment begins.
Effective antibiotic treatment is available. To prevent potential complications, the course of antibiotics should be completed.
- Exclude people with streptococcal sore throat from childcare, preschool, school and work until the person has received antibiotic treatment for at least 24 hours and feels well
- cover the nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing
- always follow good hand washing procedures
- dispose of soiled tissues appropriately
- do not share eating utensils, food or drinking cups
- do not drink unpasteurised milk
- people with sore throats should not prepare food for others.