What is the Incubation Period for Strep Throat?

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  • Written By: N. Madison
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 23 October 2019
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Strep throat can have an incubation period that lasts between two to five days. This means a person who is exposed to the bacterium that cause this illness may develop the illness two, three, four, or five days after his exposure. In most cases, however, the incubation period for strep throat lasts for about three days. People who have been infected with the bacteria that cause strep throat are contagious until they have received antibiotic treatment for 24 hours. An infected person can be contagious even if he does not have symptoms of the condition.

The incubation period for strep throat is a short period of time before people usually exhibit symptoms of a sore throat. It starts when a person is exposed to the strep throat bacteria. It ends when the person develops symptoms or is considered an infected carrier. This period can last for as little as two days or as long as five days. Most of the time, however, a person will develop symptoms of the illness three days after he has been infected.


Most people who are in the incubation period for strep throat are not even aware they have been exposed. A person is exposed to the bacterium that cause this illness when an infected person coughs or sneezes and sends droplets containing the bacteria into the air. It is also possible to be infected through sharing food or kissing. An infected person may cough, sneeze, or share food with another person, for example, and pass the bacteria on before he knows he is infected. Additionally, a person may be infected by touching a surface that has the bacteria on it and then touching his mouth or nose.

Once the two- to five-day incubation period for strep throat ends, a person may develop the symptoms of strep throat. These include pain in the throat, problems swallowing, and reddened tonsils. A person with this condition may also develop red spots on the roof of his mouth, a rash, and a fever. Some people with strep throat also have a headache and experience stomachaches, vomiting, and fatigue. It is important to note that some people do not experience symptoms after infection with step throat bacteria; they are referred to as carriers.

Step throat is normally treated with oral antibiotics. After 24 hours of treatment, a person typically is no longer contagious. He may begin to feel better after a day or two, but must usually finish the entire course of antibiotics for the treatment to be successful. A person can be contagious before antibiotic treatment, even if he does not have symptoms.


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