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
Results of a rapid strep test are available in 10 to 15
Why It Is Done
A rapid strep test may be done in the
- A person has symptoms of
strep throat infection.
- A person has been
exposed to strep during an epidemic of
- 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.
Findings of a rapid strep test may include the
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
- A throat culture may be done if the rapid strep test result
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.
|Primary Medical Reviewer||Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine|
|Specialist Medical Reviewer||Donald R. Mintz, MD - Otolaryngology|
|Last Revised||August 2, 2012|