What's Going Around: strep throat

What's Going Around: strep throat
Dr. Bruce Thompson at The Children's Clinic in Lake Charles says strep throat is What's Going Around this week. (Source: CDC)

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - A contagious bacterial infection that causes a sore throat and fever is What's Going Around this week.  Dr. Bruce Thompson at The Children's Clinic of Southwest Louisiana in Lake Charles says strep throat is being spread more among school-aged kids.

There's no "strep throat season," since it goes around all year, but Dr. Thompson says he has seen an uptick this week.

"It is very prevalent, especially during the school year, because a lot of people seem to pass it within the school system when they're in close contact with one another," he said.

The bacterial infection is spread by airborne respiratory droplets and saliva.  Dr. Thompson says the symptoms can vary from person to person.

"Most of them will complain of sore throat, but not always," he said.  "Some of them just have fever, some just say my throat hurts a little bit, so you see one extreme to the other.  Some have a high fever and bad sore throat, some of them even have an upset stomach with it, others just say my throat hurts a little bit and don't really have a lot of fever."

Diagnosing strep throat can be done through a visual exam of the back of the throat, but the gold standard is a rapid strep test.

Antibiotics can quickly treat strep.

"It's very sensitive to penicillin, so unless a child is allergic to penicillin, usually we do oral antibiotics," said Dr. Thompson.  "There is an option of doing a long-acting penicillin injection, so you can do either."

With medication, you will typically be feeling better - and not be contagious - after one day.

"They're contagious while they have it and especially while they have fever," said Dr. Thompson.  "Once they get diagnosed and they're treated, usually within 24 hours they can go back to school or activities."

You can prevent the spread of strep throat by washing your hands frequently and avoiding close contact with someone who is sick.

Dr. Thompson says he is still seeing a steady stream of pediatric patients with the flu.  Flu season typically begins to taper off in late March.

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