Updated: Oct 12, 2020
Strep throat is an infection caused by a bacteria known as group A streptococcus (GAS). The infection targets the throat and tonsils and is highly contagious.
Symptoms of a strep throat can include:
Pain when swallowing
Swollen lymph nodes
Red or swollen tonsils
White patches or pus on the tonsils
Tiny red spots on the roof of the mouth
Nausea or vomiting
However, it is possible to be exposed to strep throat from a person who is not expressing any of these symptoms.
Because strep lives in the nose and throat it can be easily spread to others. Strep can be spread person to person through coughing or sneezing which creates respiratory droplets that contain the bacteria.
You can contract strep throat if you breathe in the droplets or through one of the ways below:
Share food or beverage with someone who may have strep throat
Touch a surface with droplets on it and then touch your mouth and nose
If you do become infected with strep it will take two to five days for your symptoms to develop, and you may be contagious in the few days leading up to when you start showing symptoms.
If a healthcare professional deems it necessary for you to take antibiotics, you will continue to be contagious for 24 hours after you have started your antibiotic treatment. It is recommended to seek treatment as if you decide not to seek the treatment you could remain contagious for up to 2-3 weeks and may develop more serious problems.
If you have been in contact with someone who has strep throat be cautious and refrain from sharing food or beverages with other individuals. Additionally, you will want to be courteous and cover your face with the inside of your elbow while sneezing or coughing and disinfect the areas around you, should you sneeze or cough.
For other tips on how to stop the spread of strep throat take a look at our blog post, "How to Prevent the Spread of Strep Throat."