KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — One of the most common childhood illnesses is strep throat. It keeps children home from school and fills up doctor’s offices. Strep throat is highly contagious and can spread quickly when groups of people are in close quarters.

Dr. Amit Patel from East Tennessee Children’s Hospital shares how the bacterial infection spreads and what care can be given to someone who has strep.

How strep throat spreads 

Sneezing, coughing and shaking hands can easily spread the infection from one person to another. Someone whose strep throat isn’t treated is more likely to spread infection when symptoms are most severe. However, an infected person can still infect others for up to three weeks. To prevent the spread of strep throat an infected person should stay home and frequently wash their hands.


  • Fever
  • Stomach pain
  • Sore throat with red, swollen tonsils (White or yellow dots may be visible on tonsil as well as red spots in the roof of the child’s mouth.)
  • Headache

Does strep throat need to be seen by a doctor? 

Yes, strep is caused by a type of bacteria which requires treatment with antibiotics to get rid of the infection. If not treated, strep can lead to complications like kidney inflammation and rheumatic fever.

Home care

  • Give plenty of liquids (Avoid orange juice and other acidic beverages. Warm liquids like soup, tea and hot chocolate can be soothing.)
  • Take all medication (Don’t be tempted to stop using a prescribed antibiotic when the child feels better.)
  • Rest (Doctor will advise when child should return to normal activities.)

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