The dangers of strep throat going undiagnosed and untreated

Posted at 9:58 PM, Oct 23, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-24 11:47:58-04

Kids are back in school and that means they are at risk of strep throat, which can be dangerous if gone untreated. It's also easily spread. 

If you're exposed to strep throat it can take two to five days before you start having symptoms, and if you start taking antibiotics you're still contagious for 24-hours after you've started treatment. 

Melissa Macavage's daughter Paige became ill last winter and doctors initially believed she had the flu. However, it turned out it was strep throat that went undiagnosed and untreated.

Because Paige's symptoms of strep went untreated, it turned into strep arthritis or Poststreptococcal Arthritis, which causes inflammation of one or more joints.

Action News' Chief Health Editor Dr. Partha Nandi says it can become deadly. When strep throat went undiagnosed in him, he ended up with rheumatic fever and his heart valves were nearly destroyed.

"I almost died when I was 6 years of age because of strep throat," Nandi said.

Typically, young people ages 5 to 15 are most at risk but adults are to, especially if you have a weak immune system.

"You get it because somebody coughs," Nandi said. "It spread through the air, airborne droplets, you can also get it by touching door knobs."

Touching surfaces or sharing drinks with someone who is sick can also make you ill. So if you have a sore throat for two days or more, a fever, rash, head ache, nausea or swollen lymph glands, you need to see a doctor immediately. If you're diagnosed with strep throat it's vital you finish your medication.

Fortunately for Paige, everything is fine nearly a year later.