PUBLIC HEALTH FACT SHEET
What is Strep Throat/Scarlet Fever?
Strep throat is a sore throat caused by streptococcal bacteria. It is important to diagnose and treat strep throat with an antibiotic because significant problems may result if it is left untreated. Strep throat can occur at any age, but is most common in school-age children.
Scarlet fever is also caused by streptococcal bacteria and is characterized by a skin rash. A fine red rash appears most often on the neck, chest, under arms, elbows, groin, and on the inner surfaces of the thighs. In addition to the rash, a person with scarlet fever may have the same symptoms as strep throat.
How is it spread?
The germs that cause strep throat are spread through tiny droplets in the air from sneezing and coughing. It is rarely spread by indirect contact with objects.
How is it treated?
Strep throat and scarlet fever are treated with antibiotics. Untreated or inadequately treated streptococcal infections can lead to serious complications such as kidney disease, rheumatic fever, or throat abscesses.
How can we prevent Strep Throat?
- Wash hands frequently.
- Cough or sneeze into tissue. Dispose of tissue properly.
- Exclude persons known to have a strep infection from school until 24 hours after beginning medication.
SYMPTOMS OF STREP THROAT
- Suden onset of fever
- Sore throat with reddened tonsil area
- Painful swallowing
- Swollen and tender lymph nodes on neck
- Ear pain
- Skin rash in the presence of the above symptoms may indicate scarlet fever