During the cold months, a common illness is strep throat. Strep throat is caused by a bacteria and is most common in children aged two years and older. Don’t be fooled though: Strep can happen anytime of the year and at any age. It is spread through coughing, sneezing and close contact, such as sharing cups, utensils, etc.
Symptoms of strep are fever, chills, painful/swollen/red tonsils and throat, pain with difficulty in swallowing, swollen glands of the neck or under the jaw, headache, stomach ache, nausea/vomiting. Seeing pus or white dots doesn’t mean that it is strep; that can be seen with viruses as well. If you see red dots (petechiae) on the roof of the mouth, it almost always is strep.
Some kids never have a sore throat; they just complain of headache, stomach ache, etc. Others may have a red, rough rash that may itch. This is scarlet fever. It is essentially strep of the skin. The rash feels like fine-grain sandpaper and looks like a sunburn.
We recommend that strep be treated with antibiotics. In rare instances, strep may affect other parts of the body, such as the kidneys. Penicillin is the recommended antibiotic, though we may prescribe amoxicillin (it tastes better!). Zithromax and Omnicef are good choices for those allergic to penicillin.
It is a good idea to replace your toothbrush in one to two days after starting the antibiotic, so your child is not reinfected. Your child can return to school after being on the antibiotic for 24 hours and fever free for 24 hours.
Learn more about strep at http://www.rushcopley.com/health/healthwise/document-viewer/?id=hw54745