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This paper will discuss the communicable disease, strep throat and the efforts to control it. It will identify the environmental factors related to the disease and explain lifestyle influences, socioeconomic status, and the management of the disease. Any gaps in available resources for strep throat and how to meet the needs of the gaps with recommendations on expanding community programs will also be covered. Information on what the public health department is doing to reduce the threat of strep throat will be provided.
“Strep throat is a bacterial infection that is caused by streptococcal (strep) bacteria. It is found in the throat and on the tonsils.” (WebMd, 2013) When you have strep throat your throat becomes irritated and inflamed which causes a sudden, severe sore throat. There are many kinds of strep bacteria and some cause a more serious illness than others. It is common for people to think they have strep when they have a sore throat but most sore throats are caused by viral infections.
However, a sore throat caused by a viral infection can be just as painful as strep throat.
The most common symptoms of strep throat include a sudden, severe sore throat, a fever over 101 degrees, white or yellow spots on the back of a bright red throat, pain when you swallow, and swollen tonsils and lymph nodes. Some people may also experience a headache and belly pain. Other strep cases my cause a red skin rash, vomiting, body aches, and not feeling hungry but these are less common symptoms.
Strep throat is a communicable disease that is passed from person to person through particles in the air from breathing, coughing or sneezing into the air while infected. It takes 2 to 5 days before having symptoms after being exposed to strep. “Your doctor will do a physical exam, ask you about your symptoms and past health, and do a lab test such as a throat culture or rapid strep test.” (WebMD, 2013) The diagnosis of strep throat is done through a physical examination by a doctor, medical history, and lab testing that includes a throat culture or rapid strep test. The rapid strep test gives the doctor results within 10 minutes but sometimes it is not accurate. If a rapid strep is taken and shows negative with other symptoms of step a culture is sent to a lab for further testing and takes one to two days. If the rapid test shows positive for strep no further testing is required.
Once a strep throat diagnosis is made, the patient is given an antibiotic and it is recommended that they stay away from others for at least 24 hours after starting the antibiotics so they are no longer contagious. Taking an antibiotic will shorten the time a person is able to spread the disease to others and also lowers the risk of spreading it to other parts of the body. A person that has strep may also be advised, by their doctor, to take an over-the-counter medicine such as acetaminophen (Tylenol or Ibuprofen) to help with pain and to reduce your fever.
Hand washing is especially helpful in places where germs are easily spread, such as nursing homes, schools, and hospitals. It is suggested that you wash your hands throughout the day, before, during and after preparing food and before eating. “The best way to keep from getting strep throat is to wash your hands often and avoid sharing eating utensils, like forks and cups.” (Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 2013) You should also wash your hands after changing a diaper and using the bathroom. “If you are sick, wash your hands after sneezing, coughing, or blowing your nose.” (Healthline, 2012)
Anyone can contract strep throat but there are some environmental factors that can also cause the bacteria or make it worse. These factors include irritants such as cigarette smoke, chronic postnasal drip and fungi. Although case series and population-based surveillance have identified several possible host risk factors for the development of invasive GAS (group A streptococcal) disease, including age, Native American ethnicity, HIV infection, diabetes mellitus, cardiovascular disease, alcoholism, and other chronic diseases, these studies have not been able to assess household risk factors. (Emerging Infectious Disease, 2003) In previous case studies and noninstitutional surveillance, risk factors in adults age eighteen to forty-four included exposures to one or more children with sore throats, HIV infection, and a history of injecting drug use.
The same case studies and surveillance in adults age 45 and over identified risk factors as the number or persons in the home, diabetes, cardiac disease, cancer, and corticosteroid use. There are no local gaps in the availability of information pertaining to strep throat. The public health department epidemiologist staff works with community health care providers to prevent disease occurrences. They work together to provide public health recommendations for care and diagnosis of the ill and to prevent the spread of diseases by educating the community about disease control methods. In order to help the community stay healthy the county health department provides early detection of disease clusters and outbreaks.
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