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Rapid Strep Test for Strep Throat

For a rapid strep test, the throat and tonsils are swabbed to collect bacteria from the infected area for testing. The bacteria are analyzed to see whether Group A strep (streptococcal) bacteria are causing the sore throat.

A good sample of throat secretions is needed to make sure the test is accurate. A person must remain very still during the procedure so that the doctor is able to collect enough secretions for an accurate test.

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Results of a rapid strep test are available in 10 to 15 minutes.

Why It Is Done

A rapid strep test may be done in the following cases:

  • A person has symptoms of strep throat infection.
  • A person has been exposed to strep during an epidemic of rheumatic fever.
  • The person has a personal or family history of rheumatic fever or other serious infections (such as toxic shock syndrome) and has been exposed to strep. In these cases, if there are no symptoms, a culture may be done first because it is more accurate than a rapid strep test.

In general, it is not necessary to test people who have been exposed to strep throat but do not have any symptoms.

Results

Findings of a rapid strep test may include the following.

Normal

A normal or negative test means that strep bacteria may not be present.

  • Sometimes, negative results are wrong. This means that you may have a negative rapid strep test result and still have strep throat.
  • A throat culture may be done if the rapid strep test result is negative.

Abnormal

An abnormal or positive strep test means that strep bacteria are present.

  • Antibiotic treatment can be started.
  • A positive test result does not distinguish those people with an active strep infection from those who are carriers of strep bacteria but actually have a viral infection (rather than a bacterial one).

What To Think About

The rapid strep test costs less than a throat culture and may diagnose strep throat quickly.

Complete the medical test information form (PDF)(What is a PDF document?) to help you prepare for this test.

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Donald R. Mintz, MD - Otolaryngology
Last Revised August 2, 2012

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: August 02, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

How Do I Measure Up? Get the Facts Fast!

Number of Days Per Week I Floss

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You are currently

Only 18.5% of Americans never floss. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Floss removes food trapped between the teeth and removes the film of bacteria that forms there before it turns to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Try flossing just one tooth to get started.

You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for 3 more days!

You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily, but you're well on your way to making a positive impact on your teeth and gums. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for all 7 days!

Only 50.5% of Americans floss daily, and good for you that you are one of them! Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Congratulations on your good oral health habit!

SOURCES:

American Dental Association, Healthy People 2010

This tool is intended only for adults 18 and older.

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