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Strep Throat

How is strep throat spread, and is it contagious?

Strep throat is highly contagious and is most commonly spread via direct person-to-person contact.

  • The incubation period (the time it takes from exposure to the infection to the appearance of symptoms) for strep throat is two to five days.
  • Passage of airborne droplets and/or saliva from the infected individual to another is the most likely mechanism of contracting strep throat. Close quarters (such as the home, classroom, day care centers, college dorms, etc.) provide an ideal environment for passage of strep bacteria from one person to another.
  • The risk of contracting a strep throat infection is approximately 40% in household environments.
  • Most infectious disease specialists believe that a patient is no longer contagious after 24 hours of effective antibiotic therapy.
  • Spread of strep bacteria via food borne transmission is less common than direct person-to-person exchange of droplets or saliva.
  • The exact likelihood of developing strep throat from family pets is unknown, but most experts believe it is minimal.

How long does strep throat last?

Strep throat will usually get better on its own within two to five days, however, you may start feeling better within a day or two after antibiotics are started. Strep throat remains contagious for the first 24 hours after starting antibiotics, so it is recommended that people stay home from work or school to avoid spreading the infection.

Reviewed on 10/12/2016

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