Strep Exposure

Symptom Definition

  • Close contact with strep: the child lives in a home where a sibling, parent or other household member has a throat culture or rapid-strep test that is positive for strep throat. Usually the contact is within the previous 7 days. (Reason: incubation period for strep is 2 to 5 days.)
  • Limited contact with strep: Exposed to someone outside the home with a positive strep test.
  • Sometimes the contact is with a person who was treated for clinical symptoms of a strep infection without any culture or testing.

Call Your Doctor Now (night or day) If

  • Your child looks or acts very sick
  • New drooling (can’t swallow fluids) or having great difficulty swallowing
  • Difficulty breathing or working hard to breathe
  • Fever > 104°F (40°C)
  • Signs of dehydration (very dry mouth, no tears with crying and no urine in > 8 hours)

Call Your Doctor Within 24 Hours (between 9 and 4) If

  • You think your child needs an office visit or throat culture
  • Sore throat pain is severe
  • Age < 1 year old
  • Earache or sinus pain/pressure also present
  • Child with mild symptoms compatible with strep throat (e.g. sore throat, cries during feedings, puts fingers in mouth, enlarged lymph nodes in the neck, fever)

Call Your Doctor During Weekday Office Hours If

  • You have other questions or concerns

Parent Care at Home If

  • Strep contact but no symptoms AND you don’t think your child needs to be seen

Home Care Advice for Home Care Advice for Strep Contacts with Symptoms (Pending a Throat Culture)

  1. Reassurance: A throat culture isn’t urgent. It could be a strep throat or just a viral infection of the throat. A sore throat is commonly part of a cold. Here are some ways to keep your child comfortable until you get a throat culture.
  2. Local Pain Relief:
    • Children over age 1 can sip warm chicken broth or apple juice.
    • Children over age 4 can suck on hard candy (e.g. butterscotch) or lollipops.
    • Children over age 6 can also gargle warm water with a little table salt or liquid antacid added
  3. Pain Medicine: Give acetaminophen or ibuprofen for severe throat discomfort or fever > 102°F.
  4. Soft Diet: Cold drinks and milk shakes are especially good. (Reason: Swollen tonsils can make some foods hard to swallow.)
  5. Contagiousness: Your child may have a Strep throat infection and should avoid day care or school until the results of the throat culture are known.
  6. Call Your Doctor If
    • Your child becomes worse or develops any of the “Call Your Doctor Now” symptoms

Home Care Advice for Strep Contacts with No Symptoms

  1. Reassurance: Most children exposed to someone with strep throat do not come down with it, especially if exposure occurs outside the home. Throat cultures are unnecessary for children without any symptoms.
  2. Incubation Period: Most children who do catch strep develop some symptoms 2 to 5 days after exposure.
  3. Contagiousness: Your child does not need to miss any day care or school.
  4. Call Your Doctor If
    • Your child develops any strep symptoms in the next 7 days.