S is for Strep

Strep or strep throat is short for streptococcus pharengytis.


It’s a bacterial infection (currently setting up home in Child 2’s throat) and his symptoms include a sore throat, a temperature over 102, some vomiting and a lot of limp wimpy behavior.

Thankfully Child 2 is quite a cute patient. When he asked me yesterday if throwing up in the corridor at school counted as vandalism I was very amused by the relief on his face when I said it was not. He has also thanked me repeatedly for fetching him water in the night and ‘doing everything for him.’ He has also declared that the Heinz tomato soup I bought him from the special little UK foods section in our local supermarket is ‘the best.’

But the burning question, from a translation standpoint at least, is – is strep throat the same as tonsillitis? Kids in the UK, as far as I am aware, do not commonly get strep throat but it is all the rage here and in Canada. In my totally unscientific opinion, it’s one of the most common childhood ailments. And it’s not just a sore throat – as evidenced by the fever and the prescription of antibiotics I just collected for Child 2. But does that mean it’s tonsillitis?

And the answer, as far as I can determine is… kind of. Tonsillitis is inflammation of the tonsils caused by either a virus or the strep bacteria and I’m pretty sure that the definition of tonsillitis is the same in the US and the UK. But here’s what I think… I think if Child 2 had strep in the UK, a doctor would call it tonsillitis and give antibiotics. If it was viral tonsillitis, they’d call it a sore throat. Whereas here you have strep or a virus. But what do I know?


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