Employee & Community Health

Making strep throat testing, treatment better

8/27/2018 by Jason Homme, MD, and Robin Patel, MD

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Most sore throats are caused by viruses, but strep throat is caused by bacterial called group A Streptococcus or group A strep. Group A strep lives in the nose and throat and can easily spread to other people through coughing and sneezing. 

In general, strep throat is a mild infection, but it can make swallowing very painful. Strep is most common in children; between four and six out of every 20 with a sore throat are diagnosed with strep throat. For adults, that number is one or two out of every 20. 

There is a quick test health care providers use to to see if you have strep throat. If the test is positive, your provider can prescribe antibiotics. Now a recent study conduced by Employee and Community Health (ECH), Mayo Clinic and other clinicians has clarified testing and treatment for children diagnosed with strep. 

The study was conducted with 50 children diagnosed with strep and treated with antibiotics. It found that if a patient has been tested and treated for strep, but continue to have symptoms, the provider can conduct a follow-up test one week after the first one. 

So if your child tests positive for strep throat and redevelops symptoms after one week of treatment, it's a good idea to seek care. Your health care provider then may choose to test your child again and reevaluate treatment. 

For questions about strep throat, ask your care team or check out resources from Mayo Clinic and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Dr. Jason (Jay) Homme is a physician in Employee and Community Health's (ECH) Division of Community Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine (CPAM). His main areas of practice and interest are pediatric and adolescent medicine, inpatient medicine, office-based procedures and medical education. 

Dr. Robin Patel is chair of the Division of Clinical Microbiology, director of the Clinical Bacteriology Laboratory and director of the Infectious Diseases Research Laboratory at Mayo Clinic. Her research focuses on biofilm-mediated infections, novel approaches to diagnosing prosthetic joint infection and using antimicrobial agents for treatment of bacterial infections.