Streptococcal screen

Alternative names
Rapid strep test

Definition
A streptococcal screen is a test to detect streptococcal pharyngitis from a throat swab.

How the test is performed
The test requires a throat swab. Antibody-antigen technology is used to identify the presence of group A streptococcus from the swab. The test takes about 7 minutes. A culture for group A streptococcus is often done at the same time, because the rapid test may miss some infections.

How to prepare for the test
There is no special preparation. Inform the health care provider if you are using, or have recently used, antibiotic therapy.

Infants and children:
The preparation you can provide for this test depends on your child’s age, previous experiences, and level of trust. For general information regarding how you can prepare your child, see the following topics:

How the test will feel
Your throat will be swabbed in the area of the tonsils. This may produce a gagging sensation.

Why the test is performed
The test is performed when strep throat is suspected or when symptoms of pharyngitis are present.

Normal Values

Group A streptococcus is not present.

What abnormal results mean

Group A streptococcus is present (confirms strep throat).

What the risks are

There are no risks.

Special considerations

This test screens for the group A streptococcus organism only and will not detect other causes of pharyngitis.

Johns Hopkins patient information

Last revised: December 2, 2012
by Arthur A. Poghosian, M.D.

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