Step throat cases on the rise

The Grant County Health Department at 528 E. Main Ste. E in John Day. Health department staff report seeing an increase in strep throat cases.

The Grant County Health Department reports seeing an increase in cases of strep throat in the community and advises people to take steps to prevent the disease from spreading.

The health department has seen an increase in the number of children and adults with sore throat complaints that tested positive for strep throat.

Health Department Manager Jessica Winegar told the Eagle people should not be alarmed but should step up hygiene around their homes and businesses and go to the doctor when certain symptoms appear (see symptoms below).

Strep throat is a bacterial infection and can be treated with antibiotics, pain medicine and rest, according to information provided by the health department. People with strep throat can transmit the disease to others for 24 hours after starting antibiotics, so children should be kept out of school or daycare for at least one full day after starting antibiotics.

Frequent hand washing with soap and reducing germs in bathrooms and kitchens by cleaning with soap or cleansers is also important. When possible, people should avoid anyone in the home who is sick.

Winegar said about three to four people a day have been showing up at the health department complaining of sore throats that tested positive for strep throat. A test conducted in the office can quickly determine if a person has strep throat, she said.

“It really picked up in the last few weeks,” she said. “We first noticed an increase in mid-November.”

Strep throat is typically a seasonal disease, Winegar said, but this year was unusual with instances of strep throat reported in Grant County during the summer. The health department has also been seeing a small cough accompanying strep throat, which is not usual, and maybe a little runny nose, she said.

Strep throat is relatively easy to treat and prevent from spreading if people take necessary steps, but left untreated it could lead to scarlet fever. Winegar noted that cases of scarlet fever were reported in Grant County about five years ago.

“If you’re sick, you should stay home,” she said. “If symptoms don’t improve, people should seek medical attention from their local providers, not the emergency room.”

For more information about strep throat symptoms and treatment and about improved hygiene, contact the Grant County Health Department at 541-575-0429.

About three out of every 10 children with a sore throat actually have strep throat, according to information provided by the Grant County Health Department. Symptoms include:

• Severe throat pain.

• Fever with temperatures higher than 100.4 degrees.

• Swollen glands in the neck.

• The roof of the mouth turns red, and the tonsils appear white.

Symptoms warranting a trip to the doctor include:

• Stiff neck or severe headache.

• Trouble breathing.

• Trouble swallowing because of throat pain.

• Coughing up colored or bloody mucus.

• If fever returns after a few days.

• New symptoms appear, such as rash, joint pain, earache, vomiting or nausea.

• No improvements after two days of antibiotics.

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