Strep Throat / Scarlet Fever

Strep Throat / Scarlet Fever

Public Health Fact Sheet

What is Strep Throat/Scarlet Fever?
Strep Throat is an infection in the throat and tonsils caused by bacteria called group A streptococcus.  Strep Throat is a common type of sore throat in children and less common in adults. In general, Strep Throat is a mild infection, but it can be very painful. A person with Strep Throat can also develop a rash, known as Scarlet Fever. The rash is typically a fine red rash that most commonly appears on the neck, chest, under arms, elbows, groin, and on the inner thighs. 

How is Strep Throat spread?
The germs that cause Strep Throat are spread through tiny droplets in the air when an infected person sneezes or coughs.

How long after exposure until symptoms begin and how long is a person contagious?
Symptoms usually begin about 2-5 days after exposure.  People who are infected with Strep Throat/Scarlet Fever should stay home from work, school, or daycare until they no longer have a fever and have taken an antibiotic for 24 hours.

How is Strep Throat treated?
Strep Throat is treated with antibiotics.  Get plenty of rest and stay hydrated.  Someone with Strep Throat should start feeling better in just a day or two after starting antibiotics.  Call the doctor if symptoms persist after taking antibiotics for 48 hours.  It is possible for serious complications, like rheumatic fever, to occur if Strep Throat is left untreated or not treated properly. 

How is Strep Throat prevented?

Wash hands frequently.  Cover your cough and sneeze with a tissue and throw the tissue directly into the trash.  Use an alcohol based hand sanitizer when soap and water are not available.  Stay home when you are sick.  To prevent spread, stay home from work, school, or day care for at least 24 hours after starting antibiotics and until you no longer have a fever.

Additional information is available on the CDC website at

Symptoms of Strep Throat

  • Sudden onset of fever
  • Headache
  • Sore throat (pain often comes on very quickly)

  • Red and swollen tonsils with white patches or pus
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Rash - Scarlet Fever

February 2020