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Recurrent strep throat isn't likely a sign of an underlying problem with a child's immune system. Children who develop strep throat repeatedly may have contact with a carrier of strep, likely at home or in a child care setting — or they may be strep carriers themselves. A strep carrier is someone who has the strep-causing bacteria, but who is not having symptoms.
Strep throat is an infection caused by a bacterium known as Streptococcus pyogenes, also called group A streptococcus. Strep throat can occur at any age, even during infancy. However, strep throat is most common in school-age children.
Children who develop strep throat may have signs and symptoms including:
Testing for strep throat isn't usually recommended in children younger than age 3, as the infection doesn't occur often in this age group. Strep throat may be diagnosed with a rapid antigen test, a molecular test (PCR) or a throat culture.
Treatment for strep throat is typically a course of antibiotics. Recurrent strep throat may be treated with a different antibiotic from the one prescribed originally. In some cases, surgery to remove the tonsils (tonsillectomy) may be the most appropriate treatment.
Elizabeth Ristagno, M.D.
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