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Strep A and the importance of home testing

If you have been following the news in the UK, you might have seen reports of Strep A infections that are popping-up all over the country. But trying to get an appointment with a healthcare professional might be difficult, as there is already a lot of pressure on the National Health Service (NHS). Plus, your child might not have Strep A, but the patients at the healthcare service provider do, and so there is a chance of getting infected when you visit.

How do you get infected?

Strep A spreads in a similar manner to how COVID is spread. It is a bacterial infection that spreads through contact with droplets from an infected person. These can be passed when the infected person talks, coughs or sneezes. Infection is increased if you touch your nose, mouth or eyes when these droplets are in the air, something that small children are prone to do often.

What are the symptoms?

The following are some of the symptoms you should look out for in yourself, or family:

A fever of 101° celsius or more

Swollen lymph nodes

Pain or difficulty swallowing

A red rash on the face that is also elsewhere on the body.

What should I do?

Rapid Strep A tests are available directly to the public. They work very similar to how a COVID test works. Ask your child to lift and tilt their head back while opening their mouth. You can then use a swab to take a sample from the back of their throat and tonsil area. 

That sample will then be used to perform a rapid strep test. You will get a result usually in a matter of minutes. If you are unsure, directions are usually supplied with the test for further information or you can contact a healthcare professional. If the results are unclear, then do a second one.

What if the results are negative?

There is a chance that the bacteria isn’t developed enough for the test so it is always advisable to do a second test a few hours later. If the symptoms worsen over time, or if you are concerned, then take your child to a healthcare professional. But if the test is negative and the symptoms clear up on their own, with rest and good fluid intake, it could have just been a mild infection. 

If the tests are positive?

The cure for Strep A is usually a round of antibiotics which can be prescribed to you by a healthcare professional. Place a sanitary mask over yourself and your child when you visit the healthcare professional so as to not cause further spread of the bacteria to others. Take the test result with you to show the professional. They might want to do their own test as well just to confirm it is Strep A.

Your child or family member can be at home during recovery. The important thing is to take the full course of medication, get rest and increase your fluid intake. The healthcare professional will be able to inform you of anything else you might need to be aware of.  Recovery can take anywhere from 10 to 14 days.

Create a Home Hospital

Home hospitals are always a first choice when children are involved, when possible. Children respond better to the comfort and familiarity of being at home for a small child, as opposed to being in a different space with strangers. Parents can be comforted and ensure their child is with them and can monitor their child’s health.

Other benefits of being at home include:

  • Reduced stress for the patients
  • Reduced stress for the caregivers or family members
  • Better and quicker functional levels
  • Increased suitability for patients and carers
  • Reduced cost than being in a hospital
  • More personal care

Strep A can easily be cured if caught in time. Just be mindful and aware during this time when there are an increased amount of cases, with your children, family members, and yourself. 

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