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Kristin Hayes, R.N.

Strep Throat Persists Despite the Lateness of the Season

By April 27, 2011

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You may have heard it on the news. It's almost May and yet doctors are still reporting a high number of strep throat cases.  The real question is, why? While I haven't heard anything official I have my own opinions about this year's strep "epidemic". The bacteria responsible for most of this year's strep seems to be particularly virulent and contagious. I had my first strep infection in 15 years. While runny nose, coughing and sneezing are usually not caused by strep throat this strain seems to run a whole gamut of atypical symptoms.

My daughter had strep this February and was so congested that I mistook her symptoms for RSV. Keep in mind that I worked as an R.N. in pediatrics through three RSV seasons. Her symptoms were almost identical, the poor girl could hardly breathe. I was biding my time to take her to the E.R. but never suspected strep. To make matters even more confusing through the first week or so she continued eat and drink as if she did not have a sore throat. This is unusual because doctors rely on a very painful sore throat as the number one defining symptom of strep (see Symptoms of Strep Throat).

The only reason we figured out that my daughter had strep was was because my husband caught it and went to the doctor. When he had a positive strep test the rest of the family was put on antibiotics. My daughter immediately improved but the infection had caused fluid in her ears and a massive sinus infection which led to surgery. All in all she was sick for almost two months. That is a very long time to be contagious and potentially spreading strep to others.

Most of the time, symptoms of strep should subside within 24 hours of receiving antibiotics yet my husband and I still had symptoms until the entire course of antibiotics was completely finished. Even four weeks after the onset, we were both extremely fatigued and my husband, who at one time had mono, continued to have swollen, white, tonsils. We believe my daughter caught the illness from her school. It swept through the faculty and student body rapidly and at one point so many teachers had called in sick that they almost had to cancel school.

To wrap things up this is why I believe we are still having so much strep throat this late in the season:

  • People are delaying treatment because this strain of the streptococcus bacteria causes symptoms that are more similar to a cold virus than strep throat.
  • This strain of bacteria seems to last longer, giving an infected individual more time to spread the illness to others.
  • This strain of bacteria may be harder to kill with standard antibiotics or just take longer. Because people may think that the antibiotic isn't working they may stop treatment before it is finished.
  • Because this type of strep results in such a long course of illness (3-4 weeks) people are returning to work and school too soon.

Of course, until the scientific community studies the bacterial strain causing this year's strep and comes out with something official this is all just speculation. What do you think? Have you had a similar experience with strep throat this year? Leave your comments below.

And, if you are suffering from strep throat or if you suspect you may have strep throat you might wish to read some of the following articles.

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April 28, 2011 at 4:09 am
(1) singer says:

I think I may have strep now that I’ve read this post. I’ve had something for over a month. I’ve gone through a Z-Pak and Augmentin. Neither seem to have helped. I had to sing through many hours of rehearsals and Holy Week services this past week and now I tire from speaking. Exhaustion seems the most dominant symptom right now. And a sore throat with cough. That’s where I am wondering if Strep may not be what I have. The cough (with accompanying mucus) has been really nasty.

April 30, 2011 at 10:34 pm
(2) ent says:

My daughter slept all day for like 4-5 days, plus had nausea and vomiting (not very common for strep throat at all). My husband took a Z-pack because he has “cillin” allergies. He took a lot longer to get better than the rest of us who took amoxicillin (the 1st antibiotic of choice for strep).Maybe you have strep, maybe you don’t but I wouldn’t rule it out. Like I said, my daughter’s symptoms were so atypical that I thought she had RSV. Another illness that closely mimics the symptoms of strep is mono. You might want to have a monospot test if you haven’t previously had mono and the strep test is negative.

May 2, 2011 at 1:59 pm
(3) sheri says:

I have two kids my boy is six and daughter almost two between them they’ve had strep a total of 7 time since December. My son just had a rapid strep test done Friday came back positive but his throat culture came back negative today after I took my daughter into the Dr she had a positive rapid strep result but no throat culture was done. I don’t know what’s going on.

October 27, 2011 at 5:24 pm
(4) Nicholas says:

I had a crazy strep this year too. Accompanied by post nasal drip and a nasal infection. Now 3 months latter I have mucusy strep again! What if it’s stuck in the nasal cavity? during this one I’ve been coughing up mucus with dried pockets in the center! (gross I know) So what if it gets stuck up there? Super strep! O.o

September 28, 2012 at 9:42 pm
(5) Ty says:

Its end of September 2012 thought I had a head cold been fighting a sore throat for a few weeks then bit turned to my sinuses… just thought I had a bad head cold or sinus infection but doctor said I had a over contagious illness , strep throat. Taking antibiotics and I’m on day three since I was diagnosed. Feel much better than previous days. Seems like this may take longer than usual.. Pushing the fluids… resting…sleeping…

February 26, 2013 at 4:17 pm
(6) Yolanda says:

My daughter has had strep sick in bed for 2 weeks.Her body was soar from laying for so long.
Every time she stood up she would almost pass out.
She felt exhausted for another week.
Then she was great high energy.
She had school and a full time job.She was great for 1 month.
Her throat started hurting again.Once again she has strep.
Is it because she didn’t go back to the Dr to see if it was gone?
She threw out her toothbrush and washed all of her dishes in hot soapy water,sprayed her room down.
Any ideas?

April 2, 2014 at 9:44 am
(7) JJ says:

My husband and I both came down with strep recently. I had 2 symptoms: complete fatigue. (By the time I went to the doctor I could barely move.) and chest congestion with a slight cough. I had no fever and no sore throat. Strange.

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