New strep test being studied at Northeast Ohio pediatrician’s office could reduce doctor visits

Published: Apr. 3, 2023 at 10:30 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) -This winter cases of strep have spiked among kids and spread rapidly in households and schools.

The traditional way of confirming a case has been the dreaded swab, which usually gags patients. Kids, already in discomfort and sick, have to endure it. And parents, often with several other children in tow, have to bring kids into the doctor’s office for this uncomfortable test.

But a local doctor’s office is making progress on a promising and painless way to offer some relief.

“We’re seeing more strep than we’ve ever seen in years. Nobody really knows why,” said Dr. Shelley Senders, of Senders Pediatrics.

It’s not covid, RSV, or flu that’s plaguing his pediatric patients lately. It’s strep.

“We’ll see close to 40 kids on a weekend, what we call quick sicks. Eighty percent of them are sore throats over these last couple of months,” he said.

One of those sore throats belongs to Andrew Swiergosz.

“Every time I yawned. It hurt,” he said

“I keep asking other moms ‘Is it as bad for you as it’s been for me?’ With three, I have a frequent flier card to my pediatrician,” said Meghan Swiergosz.

Her six-year-old needed a strep test, something he dreads.

When she heard about an alternative test being studied at Senders Pediatrics, she was willing to give it a try.

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Dr. Senders said this idea for a new strep test was born from the kind of outside the box thinking that was necessary because of COVID.

“I think the research that it has unleashed may help wipe out asthma, may help wipe out ear infections, may help wipe out strep, may help wipe out RSV,” he said.

The study looks to determine if a ‘spit in the cup’ test can produce as accurate results as the traditional swab tests.

“We’ve done 27. About a third have been positive, and so far we’ve seen some pretty close correlation with the spitting in the cup and the rapid throat culture,” he said.

Dr. Senders says those kind of results are what the FDA and other organizations are looking at.

“Then the real question is, will this only be done in doctor’s offices or will this be done at home? And I think the goal is that this will be done a home,” he said.

This gargle test could potentially help avoid office visits and be less invasive for kids.

“To reduce doctor visits, if anything, that’s wonderful. Because sometimes you can’t get there. With three children, it’s too much to juggle,” said Meghan.

Given a choice, Andrew said he’d take the spit cut test any day.