Strep Throat: What do I need to know?

Information provided by Ms. Goldstein, our Public Health Nurse:

The typical treatment course for strep throat involves prescribing an antibiotic to reduce the bacterial load sufficiently to allow the patient’s own immune system illness to stop the illness. According to communicable disease experts, most children are able to return to school 24 hours after beginning their antibiotic because the bacterial load is so low at that point that chances of the illness spreading are minimal. As some antibiotic doses are given once daily, a single dose may all that is required for the first 24 hours.

You may want more information and can read about this illness at Mayo Clinic’s public website. “If you or your child has strep throat, your doctor will likely prescribe an oral antibiotic. If taken within 48 hours of the onset of the illness, antibiotics reduce the duration and severity of symptoms, as well as the risk of complications and the likelihood that infection will spread to others.

With treatment, you or your child should start feeling better in a day or two. Call your doctor if there’s no improvement after taking antibiotics for 48 hours.

Children taking an antibiotic who feel well and don’t have a fever often can return to school or child care when they’re no longer contagious — usually 24 hours after beginning treatment. But be sure to finish all the medicine. Stopping early can lead to recurrences and serious complications, such as rheumatic fever or kidney inflammation.”

There are some people who are carriers of strep throat. Anyone who has more than a couple of cases of strep throat in one year, should discuss this with their physician as they may not have completely gotten over the illness. It will periodically resurface causing recurring symptoms. In some families, the carrier may not be symptomatic, and another family member can repeatedly contract the illness for a seemingly-health household member. It is also important for a child to complete all of his prescribed antibiotic even if he/she is feeling better before completing the medication prescribed. Otherwise, the bacterial load can rebound before the immune system can finish its job.