What is strep throat?

Strep throat is an infection in the throat and tonsils (glands in the back of the throat) that is caused by a bacterium known as Group A streptococcus. Strep throat spreads from person to person very easily, especially among family members. It is common in school-aged children but also occurs in adults.

Strep throat can very rarely cause more serious illnesses, such as rheumatic fever, a disease that can harm the heart valves. So, it's important that strep throat is appropriately diagnosed and treated. With proper treatment, strep throat is usually cured within 10 days.

What are the symptoms of strep throat?

The symptoms of strep throat include:

  • Sudden sore throat
  • Red tonsils that have white spots on them
  • Pain when swallowing
  • Fever
  • Swollen neck glands
  • Loss of appetite
  • Headache
  • Abdominal pain

How does strep throat spread?

Strep throat is spread by:

  • Close contact with an infected person
  • Sharing an infected person's personal items