Streptococcal Throat Infection, more commonly referred to as Strep Throat, is an infection that can make your throat feel sore or scratchy. The infection hits the pharynx, which is why it is also known as Streptococcal pharyngitis. The illness can affect people of all ages, but is most commonly found in school-aged children between 5 to 15 years old. In the United States, children can get the disease more or less every 4 years, which makes it one of the most commonly occurring illnesses within that age group. However, all age groups taken together, strep throat accounts for only a small portion of sore throat cases.
Strep throat is caused by the Streptococcus pyogenes bacteria, also known as group A streptococcus. Streptococcus bacteria can be transmitted easily, making strep throat a highly contagious infection. The bacteria can be transmitted from person to person, most easily by direct transfer of mouth fluids, but could also be through indirect contact with surfaces that contain the bacteria, which would have been transferred to those surfaces by means of contact with a mouth fluid. This means the disease can be spread through airborne droplets that are aerosolized when infected persons cough or sneeze. Transmission of the bacteria can also happen when infected persons share food or drinks, or even eating utensils that have already touched their mouths. Even doorknobs and railings can harbor the bacteria if it is touched by hands contaminated with mouth fluids coming from infected persons.
The disease occurs most often during the cold seasons, like late autumn, winter, and early spring. During these seasons, children and adults alike would usually be confined indoors, with the confined space being an environment to more easily, and more likely, transmit the bacteria from one person to another.
Streptococcus bacteria incubate in the area of 2 to 5 days from the time a person is exposed to it. Signs and symptoms of the infection can appear quite fast. Some of the signs and symptoms of strep throat can be similar to those of other infections or illnesses. This is why a doctor will likely test specifically for strep throat when these signs and symptoms occur, because correctly identifying the cause of an illness is important for effective treatment. Streptococcal throat infection is treatable. Better yet, Streptococcal throat infection is largely preventable. Remember, “an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure.”
Following are some of the ways to prevent and treat Strep throat infection.