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Streptococcal screen
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Streptococcal screen

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Rapid strep test

A streptococcal screen is a test to detect group A streptococcus, the most common cause of strep throat.

I Would Like to Learn About:

  • How the Test is Performed

    The test requires a throat swab. The swab is tested to identify group A streptococcus, the cause of strep throat. It takes about 7 minutes to get the results.

  • How to Prepare for the Test

    There is no special preparation. Tell your doctor if you are taking, or have recently taken antibiotics.

  • How the Test will Feel

    The back of your throat will be swabbed in the area of the tonsils. This may make you gag.

  • Why the Test is Performed

    Your doctor may order this test if you have signs of strep throat, which include:

    • Fever
    • Sore throat
    • Tender and swollen glands at the front of your neck
    • White or yellow spots on your tonsils
  • Normal Results

    A negative strep screen most often means Group A streptococcus is not present. It is unlikely that you have strep throat.

    If your doctor still thinks that you may have strep throat, a throat culture will be done.

  • What Abnormal Results Mean

    A positive strep screen most often means Group A streptococcus is present, and confirms that you have strep throat.

    Sometimes, the test may be positive, even if you do not have strep. This is called a false-positive result and is more likely if you have a fever or other symptoms of strep throat.

  • Risks

    There are no risks.

  • Considerations

    This test screens for the group A streptococcus bacteria only and will not detect other causes of sore throat.

Related Information

  Strep throat    

References

Nussenbaum B, Bradford CR. Pharyngitis in adults. In: Flint PW, Haughey BH, Lund LJ, et al, eds. Cummings Otolaryngology: Head & Neck Surgery. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Mosby; 2010:chap 13.

Weber R. Pharyngitis. In: Bope ET, Kellerman RD, eds. Conn's Current Therapy 2012. 1st ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 1.

Wessels MR. Clinical practice. Streptococcal pharyngitis. N Engl J Med. 2011;364(7):648-655.

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Review Date: 5/12/2014  

Reviewed By: Jatin M. Vyas, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor in Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Assistant in Medicine, Division of Infectious Disease, Department of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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