Point-of-care testing for strep throat - Primary Health

Point-of-care testing for strep throat

  • July 11, 2024

  • Adi Chandrasekhar, MD, MPH, FACP

  • 2 minutes

rapid testing for strep throat

Onsite rapid testing for strep and other infections is easy under Primary.Health’s CLIA waiver.

Most of us have dealt with an episode of sore throat caused by streptococcal pharyngitis at some point in our life. Infections are common in childhood, and some of us have even had it diagnosed well into adulthood. This can result from getting re-exposed to strep through children attending schools or day care centers. The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) estimates that about 3 out of 10 cases of sore throat in children, and 1 out of 10 cases in adults, are caused by streptococcal infection.  

Streptococcal infection of the throat, or strep throat, causes inflammation of the throat. This results in pain, fevers, enlarged tonsils with whitish spots, enlarged glands and painful swallowing. These symptoms can also evolve into various complications discussed later in this article.

Sources of sore throats

The majority of sore throat cases are caused by viral infections. Determining which cases are caused by streptococci is important for many reasons. To begin with, this distinction influences treatment options. As a bacterial infection, streptococcal pharyngitis is treated with antibiotics. Conversely, viral infections do not respond to antibiotics; inappropriate use of antibiotics in these settings can lead to increased rates of antibiotic resistance. 

Another reason to distinguish them is that untreated streptococcal pharyngitis can lead to complications. These include localized complications like ear infections, sinus infections, or abscesses but can also result in more distant complications. For example, it can lead to inflammation of the heart, which causes rheumatic fever and subsequent rheumatic heart disease. This condition can cause lifelong symptoms like valve disease. It can also affect kidney functioning, causing a condition called Glomerulonephritis, which can lead to hospitalization.

Rapid testing to diagnose strep throat

Fortunately, the highly contagious streptococcal pharyngitis is easy to diagnose using a point of care test consisting of a throat swab obtained by a healthcare provider. This rapid test provides a result in a few minutes and allows for prompt treatment. Traditionally, this would require a visit to a clinic, which can present a barrier for many patients and their families. However, under Primary.Health’s umbrella CLIA waiver, schools, long-term care facilities and other non-traditional clinical settings can do point-of-care testing for strep throat, urinary tract infections (UTIs), RSV, and other infections on site, without a laboratory.

Learn more about using Primary.Health’s CLIA waiver to administer fast, efficient professional point-of-care tests without the usual testing headaches.

Disclaimer: This blog content and linked materials are not intended as individual medical advice, diagnosis or treatment, and should not be considered as such. Any readers with medical concerns should contact a licensed healthcare provider. This blog is provided for informational purposes only.

Our latest healthcare newsletter delivered to your inbox.