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What causes strep throat?

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Quick Answer

Strep throat is an inflammation of the throat caused by a bacterial infection. According to Mayo Clinic, a strep infection causes only a small number of the total cases of sore throat, which is usually the result of a viral infection.

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Strep throat is most common among children between the ages of 5 and 15, but, according to Mayo Clinic, adults are also at risk of developing the condition. Strep throat is potentially serious, and it is sometimes associated with life-threatening conditions, such as rheumatic fever, so patients who suspect they have strep throat are advised to seek medical attention.

Strep throat is characterized by a scratchy, sore throat and a fever over 101 degrees Fahrenheit, according to WebMD. People with strep throat often develop a sudden, severe pain in the throat and experience difficulty in swallowing. White or yellow spots sometimes develop on the affected tissue, and the tonsils or lymph nodes in the neck sometimes swell up and become tender. Less common symptoms of strep throat include headaches, stomach aches, a rash on the abdomen and vomiting. Strep throat is contagious, and it can be spread from person to person by sneezing or coughing. Once an individual with strep throat has been on antibiotics for 24 hours, he is no longer contagious.

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