Streptococcal pharyngitis (or strep throat) is caused by certain bacteria called group A streptococcus and is most frequently diagnosed during the late fall, winter, and early spring. Possible symptoms may include a sudden sore throat, a fever above 101ºF, and white patches on the tonsils or in the throat. Penicillin is typically the antibiotic of choice for treating this condition.
What Is Streptococcal Pharyngitis?Streptococcal pharyngitis is the medical term for strep throat. It is a type of throat infection caused by bacteria. It occurs most often in children between the ages of 5 and 15, although it can occur in younger children and adults. It is most frequently diagnosed during the late fall, winter, and early spring.
CausesStreptococcal pharyngitis is the most common type of bacterial throat infection. It is caused by group A streptococcus bacteria (GAS for short). The scientific name for these bacteria is Streptococcus pyogenes.
(Click Strep Throat Causes for more information about group A streptococcus.)
How Common Is It?Up to 30 percent of throat infections diagnosed in children between the ages of 5 and 15 are the result of streptococcal pharyngitis. Adults and infants can also get this infection, although it is less common. Up to 10 percent of adults who seek medical care for a sore throat are diagnosed with streptococcal pharyngitis.
Although common, streptococcal pharyngitis is not the most likely reason for a sore throat. Up to 50 percent of sore throats are caused by an infection with a virus.