Rapid Strep Test (cont.)
John Mersch, MD, FAAP
Dr. Mersch received his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California, San Diego, and prior to entering the University Of Southern California School Of Medicine, was a graduate student (attaining PhD candidate status) in Experimental Pathology at USC. He attended internship and residency at Children's Hospital Los Angeles.
William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.
In this Article
- Overview of streptococcal throat infection
- What is a rapid strep test?
- Why is identification of streptococcal infection important?
- What is the traditional test for strep throat?
- Why is the rapid test better?
- How is a rapid strep test done?
- What are the limitations of the rapid strep test?
What is a rapid strep test?
The rapid strep test is a quick and accurate diagnostic tool used to determine whether or not strep bacteria are present in the patient's throat. The same test may be used to evaluate for the presence of Streptococci in other infected areas (for example, perianal infection in either gender, or vulvar infection in pre-pubertal girls).
Why is identification of streptococcal infection important?
Patients benefit both immediately and potentially in the long-term by rapid confirmation of streptococcal cause of their sore throat. Antibiotic treatment provides a quicker reduction of symptoms, shortens the duration of illness and quickly, and efficiently eliminates the possibility of spread of infection to others.
- Although rare, serious consequences of streptococcal infections do occur. Rheumatic fever is associated with heart, joint and nervous system damage and is preventable by rapid treatment of strep disease.
- Serious kidney disease that may result in kidney failure may also be a consequence of streptococcal infection.
- A throat infection due to strep needs antibiotic therapy initiated as rapidly as possible. The rapid strep test facilitates this goal.
What is the traditional test for strep throat?
The traditional test for a strep throat has been a throat culture. The major drawback of a throat culture is that the results take two to three days due to the time necessary to allow enough GAS bacteria to grow to enable accurate identification.
Why is the rapid test better?
By comparison with culture methods, a rapid strep test is much quicker and can produce results within minutes.
Find out what women really need.