Strep throat is a contagious infection and it can easily spread among people. This article talks about the effects of strep throat exposure among people.
A common cold and flu often results in swelling and soreness in the throat or difficulty when swallowing. Some over-the-counter medicines are the most common treatment that we adhere to. When we talk about a strep throat, the fact that it is a throat infection makes a lot of people confuse it with a normal throat infection like a sore throat.
A strep throat is a throat infection that is caused by the group ‘A’ streptococcus bacterium, defined as Streptococcus pyogenes. This is a contagious infection of the throat and the tonsils, that affects the pharynx and also the surrounding tissues of the throat and mouth. This infection is most commonly seen in children, but can affect anyone at any age. It is not only prevalent in the winters, but throughout the year too. Let us first understand the causes and symptoms, and then more about strep throat exposure.
Causes and Symptoms of Strep Throat
Being contagious, it usually spreads by any physical contact with an infected person. There are bacterial and viral causes too, the major one being the streptococcus bacteria. Most of the time, the symptoms will be a swollen throat and pain when swallowing, but the symptoms like a whitish or yellowish layer on the back of the throat and tonsils, fever, swelling of the lymph nodes, redness of the throat, headache, abdominal pain, etc., are typical symptoms. Pain when touching the throat, and sometimes vomiting and nausea too, can be the symptoms.
A strep throat will not have the typical sore throat symptoms like cold, flu, runny nose, etc. It can also be accompanied with symptoms like a reddish rash on the skin, which is granular like sandpaper. This is typically because of the infection spread by the streptococcus bacteria, and not due to any skin infection, which is commonly termed as scarlet fever.
About Strep Exposure
By exposure we understand it as being exposed to a certain thing or issue. By exposing strep throat, we can refer it to being exposed to bacteria that cause the infection. Let us understand the various factors that can expose a person to streptococcus bacteria.
- A close contact with the person suffering from strep throat. For example, a child can get infected, if any of the family members have this condition.
- Sharing things like vessels, toothbrush, etc., and also physical contact with the infected person.
- Exposure to the bacteria can happen with direct contact through coughing or sneezing. Very rarely will contaminated food spread the infection.
- A limited contact, like exposure to the infection in public places like schools, daycare centers, etc.
- Any contact with a person suffering from strep throat, but who is on an antibiotic treatment since 24 hours, does not carry the risk of infection.
- There is greater risk of contracting strep throat during pregnancy, with the immune system delicate during this phase, and restrictions on taking many medicines. Strep throat and pregnancy is one combination that requires utmost care and precaution.
Strep Throat Exposure Time
So how long does a strep throat last, and how long is it contagious? If the symptoms are prevalent within at least 10 days of last physical contact with the infected person, the exposure can be the cause of strep throat. The incubation period (the time from the exposure to the infection till showing up of symptoms) is around 2-4 days. If an infected person starts treatment, after 24 hours, he or she does not pose the risk of transmission of bacteria.
However, if the patient is not treated, he will pose a risk of exposure of the infection to others until 2 to 3 weeks. Each individual may have a different incubation time, since factors like immunity are also responsible for the symptoms to start showing.
If one has chronic strep throat, he is at a greater risk of contracting the infection again. Also, if there has been an episode of strep throat in the past, there is a greater chance of infection. It is a very contagious disease, and it will usually thrive and spread in more crowded areas like schools, colleges, daycare centers, camps, etc.
A diagnosis on the basis of different tests like a blood test, swab test, and rapid strep test, will be conducted, after which the treatment of antibiotics will be advised. Penicillin is the most effective antibiotic for treating strep throat. Others like amoxicillin, cephalosporins, and clindamycin are also prescribed. Other natural home treatments and precautions like avoiding school or work in case of an infection, keeping distance from an infected person, maintaining hygiene, washing hands frequently, and eating healthy food, can be followed. Get a checkup done from a doctor in case of any severe symptoms, because if left untreated, they pose a greater risk of exposure and also other complications.
A strep throat exposure will be a threat until there is room for the infection to spread and grow, so follow the precautions and take proper care to tackle a strep throat effectively.