How long are you contagious with strep throat?

If you have a strep throat infection or have had some previously, you are probably aware that it is very contagious. If that is the case then the question “how long are you contagious with strep throat” might have crossed your mind sometimes.

Strep throat is a highly contagious bacterial illness that causes soreness and scratchiness in the throat and one can remain contagious for a couple of weeks or more before remission. Even though strep throat can be contagious for weeks, there are things that can shorten this period.

This article, therefore, provides you with answers to all possible questions you may have about strep throat being contagious. Continue reading to learn more about how strep throat spreads, how long you can be contagious with strep throat, and what you can do to lower your risk.

What is a Strep throat infection?

A bacterial infection that produces inflammation and irritation in the throat is known as strep throat (Streptococcus group). Children and adults of all ages can have strep throat. However, it is especially common in youngsters aged 5 to 15. 

Sneezing, coughing, sharing food utensils, and other forms of close contact with someone who has strep throat can spread the infection to others.

What are the causes of strep throat?

Strep throat is caused by group A Streptococcus bacteria. After being exposed to these bacteria, such as when someone with strep throat coughs or sneezes, you can get strep throat by touching your eyes, nose, or mouth.

Sharing food or a drink with someone who has an active strep throat infection can transmit the infection.

Strep throat can also be contracted by touching your eyes, nose, or mouth after coming into contact with an object infected with group A strep bacteria, such as a doorknob or faucet. Strep throat can easily be contracted by children who put things they pick on the floor in their mouths.

What are the symptoms of strep throat?

The severity of strep throat varies from individual to individual. They usually appear 5 days after being exposed to strep germs. Mild symptoms, such as a sore throat, are experienced by some persons. Other patients experience more severe symptoms, including fever and swallowing difficulties.

The following are some of the most prevalent strep throat symptoms:

  • A sudden fever, especially 38˚ or higher
  • A sore, red throat with white patches
  • A headache
  • Chills
  • A loss of appetite
  • Swollen lymph nodes in the neck
  • Trouble swallowing

How strep throat spreads

Contact with respiratory droplets from a person with strep throat can spread Streptococcus from person to person. When a person with strep throat coughs or sneezes, these droplets can spread. 

You may acquire strep throat if you come into contact with these droplets and then touch your mouth, nose, or eyes. It’s also possible to contract the virus if you come into contact with a contaminated object, such as a faucet or doorknob, share food or a beverage with someone who has strep throat

If you’ve been infected with strep, it can take two to five days for symptoms to appear. 

People at risk of getting strep throat 

In the late fall and early spring, when children are in school, strep throat is very common. Streptococcal infection is most common in children aged 5 to 15. Adults, too, can benefit from it.

People with a compromised immune system are more susceptible to a strep infection. This includes people:

  • Born with an issue with a suppressed immune system.
  • Infected with HIV, AIDS, or cancer
  • Organ transplant
  • Taking medication that reduces the body’s ability to resist infections.

Is strep throat contagious?

The bacterial infection strep throat is extremely contagious. When someone with strep throat sneezes or coughs, little respiratory droplets become airborne and transmit the infection. 

Children are more likely than adults to get strep throat. Between the ages of 5 and 15, it is most common in children and teenagers. Because strep throat is so common, it can quickly spread in places where children congregate, such as daycare centers and schools.

Adults who spend a lot of time with youngsters, such as parents of school-aged children, are more likely to contract strep throat. Strep throat is rare in toddlers under the age of 3 years.

How long is strep throat contagious?

Sadly, streptococcal germs transmit swiftly, and people with strep throat can be contagious for several days before symptoms appear. This means that someone who hasn’t yet been ill can transfer the sickness to others. 

Once your child begins to develop symptoms, he or she will remain contagious until antibiotic therapy is started. Strep throat is usually no longer contagious after 24 hours of antibiotic treatment. 

Antibiotics can help your child feel better quickly as the germs die off, but it’s still crucial to continue antibiotic therapy, even if your child appears to be doing well. If you don’t seek treatment, you’ll remain contagious for 2 to 3 weeks after contracting the infection.


Adults who spend a lot of time with school-aged children are more likely to contract strep throat. Due to the high contagiousness of strep throat, staying in crowded locations such as schools or daycare centers can increase your chances of getting sick.

Strep throat can strike at any time of year, but it’s more common in the late fall and early spring.

Recurring infections 

You can get strep throat again even if you’ve had it before. Some children get recurrent strep throat, meaning they have it more than once a year.

To assist reduce the frequency of strep throat infections, your doctor may consider tonsil removal if you have reoccurring infections. Tonsillectomy is the medical term for this treatment. Even if your tonsils have been removed, you can still acquire strep throat.

Strep throat treatment

If you suspect you have strep throat, make an appointment with your doctor to be tested and begin treatment. Strep throat is usually treated with penicillin or amoxicillin. Other antibiotics can be used if you are allergic to penicillin.

Antibiotics may assist you in feeling better sooner. They can also help you stay contagious for a shorter period of time.

After taking antibiotics for at least 24 hours, most people are no longer contagious. However, make sure you finish your antibiotic treatment (unless your doctor tells you otherwise).

In addition to antibiotics, your doctor may recommend over-the-counter (OTC) medications such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or acetaminophen (Tylenol) to help with your symptoms.

Strep throat prevention 

To help reduce the spread of strep throat, follow these guidelines:

Hands should be washed correctly and on a regular basis. Always wash your hands with warm water and an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

If you or someone in your household has strep throat, clean all surfaces in your home. Bacteria can survive for short periods of time on household items, such as doorknobs and tabletops.

Wash your hands frequently if you live with or care for someone who has strep throat. Also, keep your hands away from your face, nose, and mouth.

Avoid contact with anyone who has strep throat until they’ve been on antibiotics for at least 24 hours.

Sharing food, drinks, or dining utensils with others is not a good idea. Additionally, personal objects such as toothbrushes should not be shared.

If you have strep, keep your mouth covered when coughing or sneezing. Always have a supply of disposable tissues on hand. Sneeze into the crook of your elbow rather than your hand if you don’t have a tissue.

If you have strep throat, keep in mind that you’re contagious as long as you’re experiencing symptoms, and you should avoid going to work or school. You should stay at home until you’ve been on antibiotics for at least 24 hours after starting them.

The takeaway from this article 

Strep throat is a highly contagious disease. When a person with strep throat sneezes or coughs, small respiratory droplets enter the air and spread the illness. You can be contagious a few days before symptoms appear if you’ve been exposed to the germs.

You’ll be contagious until you’ve been on antibiotics for at least 24 hours if you’re being treated with antibiotics. You’ll be contagious for 2 to 3 weeks after catching the infection if you don’t seek treatment.


Michael Sarfo
Content Creator at Wapomu

Michael Sarfo is a graduate of the University of Ghana, Legon. He is a content creator for and a writer for Wapomu

Author at

Dr. Abel Daartey is a pharmacist by profession, a teacher, and a mentor by nature. He enjoys reading scientific journals and articles and publications in neuroscience and related topics. He aims at churning out content that educates the public and health care providers in meeting the healthcare needs of the populace.

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