Strep throat


Strep throat is caused by an infection with a bacterium called Group A Streptococcus and can sometimes cause scarlet fever. Strep throat is most common in children, but can also affect adults.

Symptoms of strep throat include very sore throat, headache, swollen, tender neck nodes, difficulty swallowing, fever, white patches on the tonsils, nausea or an upset stomach.

Children with scarlet fever usually get a fine, red rash appearing on the neck, chest, under the arms, elbows, inner thigh and groin. The rash can look like a sunburn and feel like sandpaper. Children may also have a sore throat, a fever above 38.3º C (101° F), swollen glands in the neck, chills, body aches, nausea, vomiting, and loss of appetite. A white coating may appear on the tongue.

The bacterium called Group A Streptococcus is spread directly by saliva or nasal discharge of an infected person. It can also be spread through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

Strep throat is confirmed from the results of a throat swab. The same test is done to diagnose scarlet fever.
The best treatment for strep throat or scarlet fever is antibiotics.

If you think your child might have strep throat or scarlet fever, see your doctor. These infections need to be treated with antibiotics.

If your child does have strep throat or scarlet fever:

  • Hand washing is the best thing that you can do to prevent the spread of infection
  • Teach your child to cover their mouth with a tissue followed by hand washing or to cough into their sleeve
  • Encourage rest and fluids
  • Keep your child home from child care or school until the antibiotic has been given for at least one full day
  • All the medication prescribed by the doctor should be taken, even if the signs of illness have gone away

For more information, visit the Caring for Kids website.