Strep Throat and Beyond: How Contagious is your Sore Throat?

When a little one comes home sick you may wonder if you or your other children are at risk of catching the cold or flu. Sore throats can be caused by several different things and vary in levels of contagiousness because of these differences.

Strep Throat: Strep throat is caused by bacteria but is still a contagious illness. It is usually spread by direct contact between two people, so close living quarters can pose a risk for strep throat to spread. It is important to treat strep as quickly as possible because most physicians believe that strep throat is no longer contagious after 24 hours of the individual taking antibiotics.

Common Cold or Influenza: Viruses cause these sore throats. Time is usually the best treatment for viral infections, as the virus simply needs to run its course. People are usually contagious the first two to three days of their cold. When it comes to the flu, people are usually contagious a day before symptoms show and remain contagious for about a week. It is important to avoid sharing personal items, regularly wash your hands, and cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze. These precautions help decrease the spread of the common cold and the flu.

Mononucleosis: This virus is contagious through saliva, which is why it is also known as ‘the kissing disease’.  In reality, mono is easily spread through person-to-person contact -  not just kissing. Unfortunately, mono can be contagious for months after symptoms have subsided. Because of this, it is wise to discourage the sharing of utensils, drinks, and food for a brief period after someone has had mono.