How Do You Test for Strep A?
In recent months, the UK has witnessed a rise in Strep A cases. The bacterial infection has infected around 652 people, with the highest amount of cases among children aged between 10 to 14 years old.
Sadly, the bacteria which causes Strep A has also led to 190 deaths, including 30 children under 18.
In this article, we will address the question, ‘how do you test for Strep A?’
What is Strep A?
The bacteria can cause mild illness, which can be treated with antibiotics. In some cases, the infection can spread throughout the body, which can lead to severe illness and even death.
A person might not realise that they have been infected with Strep A, as they may attribute their symptoms to a common cold, flu, or Covid-19.
How do you test for Strep A?
This rapid test detects for the presence of group A streptococcal antigen, which causes a number of bacterial infections such as Strep A, Scarlet Fever, Tonsilitis and Impetigo.
So, how do you test for Strep A?
All you have to do is take a throat swab, and the test will generate your results in just 10 minutes.
The test has a shelf life of 6 months, so you can have it in your home to keep yourself and your loved ones safe.
How contagious is Strep A?
Strep A is contagious and it can be passed on from one person to the next. For instance, if an infected person sneezes or coughs near someone, or has close contact with them, then that person can also become infected with Strep A. What happens is the bacteria-filled droplets released from sneezing or coughing spray into the air, which can infect somebody else.
You can also catch Strep A from touching a surface where the bacteria-filled droplets have landed on (such as a doorknob or table), and then rubbing your eyes, nose or mouth.
Alternatively, Strep A can spread through kissing an infected person or sharing objects with them, such as a toothbrush, spoon, fork or drinking glass.
You may be at greater risk of catching Strep A if you have a weakened immune system, open sores or wounds, or if you have a viral infection such as a cold or flu.
People are generally no longer considered to be contagious after a full 24 hours of taking antibiotic treatment for the infection.
How do I know if I have Strep A?
Look out for the following symptoms which indicate a Strep A infection:
- flu-like symptoms, such as a high temperature, swollen glands or an aching body
- a sore throat (strep throat or tonsillitis)
- Red and swollen tonsils that may show white patches or visible streaks of pus
- Swollen lymph nodes under the jaw
- a rash that feels rough, like sandpaper (scarlet fever)
- scabs and sores (impetigo)
- pain and swelling (cellulitis)
- severe muscle aches
- nausea and vomiting
Can Strep A go away without antibiotics?
Yes, the infection could potentially go away without the use of antibiotic treatment.
However, it is a wise idea to consult a doctor as soon as you suspect you have become infected with Strep A, because they can prescribe antibiotics to treat the harmful bacteria that make you ill. If you do not use antibiotics to treat your Strep A infection, you will remain contagious for 2 to 3 weeks, and you are at risk of developing further complications.
For instance, untreated Strep A can cause complications such as:
- Rheumatic fever: a disease that can damage the joints and heart.
- Kidney problems.
- Scarlet Fever: a bacterial illness which leads to a red rash all over the body.
- Cellulitis: a bacterial skin infection.
- Impetigo: a skin infection.
- Necrotizing Fasciitis: a rare ‘flesh-eating disease’ that spreads quickly in the body and can cause death.
Should I see a doctor if I get Strep A?
If you or your child become ill with Strep A, then you should seek medical attention as soon as possible.
Don’t wait until symptoms worsen to consult a doctor. The infection can be treated with antibiotics and symptoms can be managed with over-the-counter painkillers. But in some cases, the infection may spread to other parts of the body and lead to life-threatening complications.
It is a good idea to see a doctor if you suspect you have Strep A, as they can prescribe you with antibiotics to treat the infection.
You should call the NHS 111 or visit A&E if:
- You have a high fever, or if your fever lasts for more than three days.
- You are vomiting, wheezing, have shortness of breath, or chest pain.
- You develop a painful earache or have drainage from your ear.
- You have pain in your face or forehead with thick, yellow or green mucus.
Can babies get Strep A?
Yes, it is possible for babies and toddlers to develop Strep A if they have come into contact with a carrier of the strep-causing bacteria.
If you suspect that your baby has been infected with Strep A, you should consult a doctor as soon as possible.
If you or your partner have developed Strep A, then you should consider wearing a face mask around your baby, until you have taken antibiotics and recovered from the infection.
Should I take my child to a doctor if they catch Strep A?
If your child’s symptoms worsen, then book an urgent GP appointment or call NHS 111, especially if your child:
- is feeding or eating much less than normal.
- has fewer wet nappies than usual or is urinating less than usual, or shows other signs of dehydration.
- has a temperature of 39C or higher.
- is very tired or irritable.
It is serious if your child experiences the following symptoms, so you should call 999 or visit A&E if:
- your child is having difficulty breathing.
- there are pauses when yourchild breathes.
- your child’s skin, tongue or lips are blue or grey.
- your child is floppy and will not wake up or stay awake.
How do I take care of myself if I have Strep A?
Take the following steps if you suspect you have become infected with Strep A:
- Take a Strep A test, to detect whether the group A streptococcus bacteria is present in your system.
- Consult a doctor or medical professional, who can prescribe you with antibiotics to treat the infection.
- Seek medical attention if your symptoms worsen, or don’t go away after a week.
- Stay home if you can, and avoid mixing with other people, so that you don’t infect them.
- Get plenty of rest, as you may experience symptoms such as a high temperature, sore throat, and body aches.
- Hydrate with plenty of water and fluids, as this enables your blood to circulate more freely, allowing your white blood cells to fight off infection faster.
- Gargle with salt water, to get rid of bacteria in the throat. Children should never do this, however.
- Suck on throat lozenges, to keep the throat moist and soothed.
- Take painkillers to manage headaches and body aches, but never more than the recommended dosage.
- Try eating soft, warm foods, which are easier to handle if you have a sore throat, such as soups, herbal teas and mashed potatoes.
ABOUT OFFICIAL RAPID TESTS
At Official Rapid Tests, we are a UK Government listed testing provider. We are a team of medical industry experts, with a combined experience of 40 years in the testing, diagnostic and medical services sector.
With our services, it couldn’t be easier for you to test yourself (or your loved ones) for Covid-19. All you have to do is buy one of our Covid tests, which can be delivered the next day. Alternatively, book a Covid test at one of our test centres, as we have over 120 clinics all over the UK.
Our Covid tests are perfect for using as proof that you have negative Covid status if you are travelling. With every negative result, you will receive a signed note from one of our doctors, declaring that you are Covid-free and fit to travel.
If you are not sure what kind of Covid Test you need, then click here to take our quiz. This will tell you which type of Covid test is suitable based on your travel requirements.
Check out our blog to read more articles about health tests, travel testing, and Covid-19.
We hope this article has answered the question ‘how do you test for Strep A?’