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Rapid Strep Test

What is the test?

Harvard Health Publications

A throat infection with streptococcus bacteria (called strep throat) needs to be treated with an antibiotic. A test is commonly used to find out whether streptococcus bacteria are present on your throat surface. The traditional test for a strep throat has been a throat culture, which takes two to three days to produce results. Several different types of rapid strep tests, however, can produce results within minutes to hours. A rapid strep test can only detect the presence of Group A strep, the one most likely to cause serious throat infections; it does not detect other kinds of strep or other bacteria.

How do I prepare for the test?

No preparation is necessary.

What happens when the test is performed?

A cotton swab is rubbed against the back of your throat to gather a sample of mucus. This takes only a second or two and makes some people feel a brief gagging or choking sensation. The mucus sample is then tested for a protein that comes from the strep bacteria.

What risks are there from the test?

There are no risks.

Must I do anything special after the test is over?

No.

How long is it before the result of the test is known?

Results may be available in minutes to a few hours. Often the doctor will ask you to wait in the office until the result is back.


Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

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