Strep throat most commonly affects children between the ages of 5 and 15. This throat infection is caused by group A streptococcus bacteria and is most frequently diagnosed during the late fall, winter, and early spring. Symptoms can include a red and painful throat that begins suddenly, a fever above 101ºF, and white patches on the tonsils or in the throat. Treatment typically involves antibiotics, such as penicillin.
What Is Strep Throat?Strep throat is a type of throat infection caused by bacteria. It occurs most often in children between the ages of 5 and 15, although it can occur in younger children and adults. Strep throat is most frequently diagnosed during the late fall, winter, and early spring.
CausesStrep throat is the most common type of bacterial throat infection. It is caused by group A streptococcus bacteria (GAS for short). The scientific name for these bacteria is Streptococcus pyogenes.
(Click Strep Throat Causes for more information about group A streptococcus.)
How Common Is It?Up to 30 percent of throat infections diagnosed in children between the ages of 5 and 15 are the result of strep throat. Adults and infants can also get strep throat, although it is less common. Up to 10 percent of adults who seek medical care for a sore throat are diagnosed with strep throat.
Although common, strep throat is not the most likely reason for a sore throat. Up to 50 percent of sore throats are caused by an infection with a virus.