What's Going Around: Strep throat

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This week, urgent care experts say they're seeing symptoms of an illness we usually think of during cold weather: strep throat. It's What's Going Around — an important reminder that the streptococcal bacteria — is around all the time.

Medical providers say kids are most at risk when they’re in close quarters. The end of the school year, for example, included parties, field trips and other opportunities to be closer than usual.

Dr. Mike Patrick of Nationwide Children's Hospital said the challenge is that strep throat and a viral sore throat can appear similar.

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“You really need a strep test to tell the difference between strep throat and a viral sore throat because the strep needs the antibiotic," he said.

Strep throat symptoms include throat pain, red and swollen tonsils, fever, headache. The best way to protect your family is to promote and practice thorough hand washing.

Your health care provider will probably prescribe an antibiotic for strep throat because it is a bacterial infection. Dr. Patrick said to make sure your children have been on the antibiotic for 12 hours and fever-free before allowing them to return to camp or group activities because they’re contagious for about that long after starting the antibiotic.

Dr. Patrick reminds us that antibiotics are used to treat strep. You can also keep your child comfortable with ibuprofen, which is an anti-inflammatory, acetaminophen and then soft foods.