Though you might assume strep throat is only contagious among children, adults can also become ill from this infection. In fact, many adults, particularly caregivers and teachers, develop strep throat after exposure to children carrying the germs.
In this article, we'll discuss the basics of strep throat, including how it’s passed from person to person, how long the contagious period is, and how to prevent strep throat from spreading.
What is strep throat?
Strep throat is often mild but can turn nasty if left untreated. It develops from a common strand of bacteria that is generally more shared among children. However, strep throat can affect and be transmitted by adults, too.
Anyone can transmit strep throat to another person through respiratory air droplets or direct contact. Therefore, being around others with strep throat could make you vulnerable to developing the illness (or the person you provide homecare services to).
What are the symptoms of strep throat?
Common symptoms of strep throat include:
- flu-like symptoms, such as a high temperature, swollen glands, or body aches
- sore throat
- a rash that feels rough, like sandpaper
- scabs and sores
- pain and swelling
- severe muscle aches
- nausea and vomiting
How to prevent strep throat when you feel it coming
The strep throat contagious period is about 2-3 weeks for individuals not taking antibiotics. However, individuals who do take antibiotics for strep throat usually are no longer infectious after about 24-48 hours from initiating antibiotic therapy—demonstrating the importance of seeking rapid treatment.
If you’re in contact with someone with the disease, here are some strep throat prevention tips:
- Basic hygiene can go a long way, which includes washing your hands frequently and not sharing items like toothbrushes or eating utensils.
- You should also avoid eating and drinking in the individual’s company and keep your hands away from your eyes, mouth, and nose until you’ve washed them thoroughly.
- If you’re caring for a child who might have been exposed to the bacteria, ensure they do all of these steps.
- If the child begins exhibiting symptoms, keep them hydrated and seek medical advice. In more severe cases, a clinician may prescribe a course of antibiotics.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers additional resources for strep throat prevention! For specific questions, be sure to consult with your healthcare team.
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