Rapid Strep Test (cont.)

Medical Author:
Medical Editor:

What is a rapid strep test?

The rapid strep test is a quick and accurate diagnostic tool used to determine whether or not strep bacteria are present in the patient's throat. The same test may be used to evaluate for the presence of Streptococci in other infected areas (for example, perianal infection in either gender, or vulvar infection in pre-pubertal girls).

Why is identification of streptococcal infection important?

Patients benefit both immediately and potentially in the long-term by rapid confirmation of streptococcal cause of their sore throat. Antibiotic treatment provides a quicker reduction of symptoms, shortens the duration of illness and quickly, and efficiently eliminates the possibility of spread of infection to others.

  • Although rare, serious consequences of streptococcal infections do occur. Rheumatic fever is associated with heart, joint and nervous system damage and is preventable by rapid treatment of strep disease.
  • Serious kidney disease that may result in kidney failure may also be a consequence of streptococcal infection.
  • A throat infection due to strep needs antibiotic therapy initiated as rapidly as possible. The rapid strep test facilitates this goal.

What is the traditional test for strep throat?

The traditional test for a strep throat has been a throat culture. The major drawback of a throat culture is that the results take two to three days due to the time necessary to allow enough GAS bacteria to grow to enable accurate identification.

Why is the rapid test better?

By comparison with culture methods, a rapid strep test is much quicker and can produce results within minutes.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 4/11/2014