Strep throat is a bacterial infection of the throat and tonsils caused by a bacteria named Streptococcus pyogenes.
People who have this most typically have high fever, a bad sore throat, and may have stomach ache, nausea or vomiting, or headache. Strep. does not cause cough, runny nose, congestion of any of the usual “cold” symptoms. However, especially in the cough and cold season, a person may have more than one illness at the same time.
In bad cases, the entire back of the throat may be quite red including the tonsils. The uvula (the thing that hangs down in the middle) may be red and inflamed and there may purple dots on the back of the roof of the mouth (petechiae). Their may or may not be pus on the tonsils. However, any or all of these signs may be missing early in the infection.
Strep. throat can be a bad infection. It can cause severe pain and a small percentage of people who get it can get something called rheumatic fever which can lead to complications like heart valve damage or nerve injury. This is not the same as scarlet fever which can also develop during infection with certain species of the Strep. bacteria. Scarlet fever causes a red, sandpapery rash on the chest, back and groin mostly, but can be anywhere. It is sometimes itchy, usually dry and may peel some. It will go away with treatment.
Strep. throat is treated with antibiotics to reduce the risk of scarlet fever and to reduce the amount of time the person is contagious to others. If you think your child may have Strep. throat, get in to be seen and tested for it!