Rapid strep test
A streptococcal screen is a test to detect group A streptococcus. This type of bacteria is the most common cause of strep throat.
The test requires a throat swab. The swab is tested to identify group A streptococcus. It takes about 7 minutes to get the results.
There is no special preparation. Tell your health care provider if you are taking antibiotics, or have recently taken them.
The back of your throat will be swabbed in the area of your tonsils. This may make you gag.
Your provider may recommend this test if you have signs of strep throat, which include:
A negative strep screen most often means group A streptococcus is not present. It is unlikely that you have strep throat.
If your provider still thinks that you may have strep throat, a throat culture will be done in children and adolescents.
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.
There are no risks.
This test screens for the group A streptococcus bacteria only. It will not detect other causes of sore throat.
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Stevens DL, Bryant AE, Hagman MM. Nonpneumococcal streptococcal infections and rheumatic fever. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 26th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 274.
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Review Date: 1/23/2020
Reviewed By: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Clinical Associate Professor, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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