Strep Throat Exposure  

This Care Guide Covers:

  • Close contact with someone who has a Strep throat infection.
  • Close contact means living in the same house with the infected person. It also includes close physical contact such as having a kissing relationship.

If not, see these topics
  • Sore throat and no known Strep throat contact. See SORE THROAT.
  • Sore throat and Strep throat contact more than 10 days ago. See SORE THROAT.
When to Call Your Doctor

Call Your Doctor Now (night or day) If
  • Your child looks or acts very sick
  • Great trouble swallowing fluids or spit
  • Trouble breathing or working hard to breathe
  • Fever over 104° F (40° C)
  • Dehydration suspected. (No urine in over 8 hours, dark urine, very dry mouth and no tears)
  • You think your child needs to be seen urgently. (Note: a Strep test alone is not urgent)
Call Your Doctor Within 24 Hours (between 9 am and 4 pm) If
  • You think your child needs to be seen, but not urgently. (OR needs a Strep test)
  • Sore throat pain is severe and not better 2 hours after taking ibuprofen
  • Age less than 1 year old
  • Earache or sinus pain (not just congestion)
  • Mild symptoms that could be from Strep throat. (Some are sore throat, cries during feeds, large lymph nodes in the neck, fever)
Call Your Doctor During Weekday Office Hours If
  • You have other questions or concerns
Parent Care at Home If
  • Strep contact but no symptoms
Causes & Health Information

Exposure (Close Contact)

  • Household Close Contact. Lives with a person whose Strep test was positive. This can be a sibling, parent, or other household member.
  • Kissing relationship with someone (boyfriend, girlfriend) who has a positive Strep test.  
  • Close contact should be within 10 days of onset of symptoms in exposed child. Reason: Time from contact to Strep symptoms usually is 2 to 5 days.  

Other Types of Contact

  • Limited contact with Strep. Contact with someone outside the home with a positive Strep test. This type of contact occurs at school.
  • Sometimes, the contact is with someone who was treated for Strep without testing.
  • Children taking antibiotics for over 24 hours do not spread Strep to others.
  • Throat cultures and rapid Strep tests aren't urgent. Most can be done in your doctor's office.

Return to School:

  • If your child has no symptoms, he does not need to miss any school.
  • If your child has symptoms, he needs to get a Strep test. He should not go to school until this is done. He can go to school if the Strep test is negative.
CARE ADVICE FOR STREP CONTACTS

Treatment for Contacts WITH Symptoms (Pending a Strep Test)
  1. What You Should Know:
    • A Strep test is not urgent.
    • It could be a Strep throat or just a viral infection of the throat.
    • A sore throat is often part of a cold.
    • Until you get a Strep test, here is some care advice that should help.
  2. Sore Throat Relief:
    • Age over 1 year. Can sip warm fluids such as chicken broth or apple juice.
    • Age over 6 years. Can also suck on hard candy or lollipops. Butterscotch seems to help.
    • Age over 8 years. Can also gargle. Use warm water with a little table salt added. A liquid antacid can be added instead of salt. Use Mylanta or the store brand. No prescription is needed.
    • Medicated throat sprays or lozenges are generally not helpful.
  3. Pain Medicine:
    • To help with the pain, give acetaminophen (such as Tylenol) or ibuprofen. Use as needed. See Dose Table.
  4. Fever:
    • For fevers above 102° F (39° C), give acetaminophen (such as Tylenol) or ibuprofen. See Dose Table. Note: Lower fevers are important for fighting infections.
    • For ALL fevers: Keep your child well hydrated. Give lots of cold fluids.
    • For babies, dress lightly. Don't wrap in too many blankets. Reason: Can make the fever higher.
  5. Fluids and Soft Diet:
    • Try to get your child to drink adequate fluids.
    • Goal: keep your child well hydrated.
    • Cold drinks, milk shakes, popsicles, slushes, and sherbet are good choices.
    • Solids. Offer a soft diet. Also avoid foods that need much chewing. Avoid citrus, salty, or spicy foods. Note: Fluid intake is much more important than eating any solids.
    • Swollen tonsils can make some solid foods hard to swallow.
  6. Return to School:
    • Your child may have a Strep throat infection. Wait for the result of the rapid Strep test. If it is negative, your child can go back to school.
  7. Call Your Doctor If:
    • Your child becomes worse
Treatment for Contacts WITHOUT Symptoms
  1. What You Should Know:
    • Many children have contact with someone with Strep throat. Most will not come down with an infection. This is especially true if the contact occurs outside the home.
    • Strep tests are not needed for children without any symptoms.
  2. Time It Takes to Get Strep Throat:
    • Time from contact to Strep symptoms usually is 2 to 5 days.  
  3. Return to School:
    • If your child has no symptoms, he does not need to miss any school.
  4. Call Your Doctor If:
    • Your child gets any Strep symptoms in the next 7 days

And remember, contact your doctor if your child develops any of the "Call Your Doctor" symptoms.
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Disclaimer: This information is not intended be a substitute for professional medical advice. It is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information.


Author and Senior Reviewer: Barton D. Schmitt, M.D.

Last Reviewed: 9/1/2012

Last Revised: 1/13/2013

Content Set: Child Symptom Checker

Copyright 1994-2012 Barton D. Schmitt, M.D.