School of Life Sciences | Ask A Biologist

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Why is Rudolp's nose red?

Strep Throat

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  • Bacteria: one-celled, microscopic organisms that grow and multiply everywhere on Earth. They can be either useful or harmful to animals... more
  • Strep throat: an illness that causes fever and sore throat, and is sometimes treated with antibiotics... more
  • Virus: a super tiny germ that you can only see with a microscope. Viruses need a host in order to reproduce... more

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Strep throat

strep bacteriaEach of us has suffered with a sore throat at one time or another. You feel icky. Your voice is scratchy. It just plain hurts. Lots of things can cause a sore throat. Viruses and bacteria cause them. So does pollen and cigarette smoke or other irritants in the air we breathe. Most sore throats will heal without treatment. But some can turn dangerous.

 

sneezeDid you ever have a sore throat that hurt a lot? I mean hurt really bad? If so, it may have been an infection called strep throat. The culprits were some particularly bad bacteria called group A Streptococcus. We know that many types of bacteria do very helpful things for the human body. But others are outlaws and bandits. Some Streptococcus are just plain nasty dudes.

The group A strep bacteria can live in your nose and throat. The tonsils are a favorite spot to infect. These nasty bacteria are easy to spread. We spew lots of tiny droplets of fluid into the air when we cough or sneeze. Those millions of wet droplets are filled with strep bacteria.

Microscopic view of Streptococcus bacteriaA simple test can help a doctor know quickly if the strep bacteria are the problem. Just looking at your red, swollen throat and tonsils is not enough. Antibiotics can wipe out the bad guys in a few days. They also help to keep a sick person from spreading the infection to friends and family members.

The best way to keep from getting strep throat is to wash your hands often. Don’t share your spoon and fork or drink cup with others. And always, ALWAYS cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze.

 

 

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Additional images from Wikimedia via Kelyn mary (bacteria close up), and Public Domain (doctor).

strep

If you think you might have strep throat, it's important to see a doctor.

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strep

If you think you might have strep throat, it's important to see a doctor.

book icon” title=“book icon Microbes

Story Behind the Scenes

 

For Teachers

Download comic as PDF packet
or
Get a MagCloud version for print or iPad

Share to Google Classroom

Be part of Ask A Biologist

by volunteering, or simply sending us feedback on the site. Scientists, teachers, writers, illustrators, and translators are all important to the program. If you are interested in helping with the website we have a Volunteer page to get the process started.