The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that there are a total of 12.5 million physician office visits for acute pharyngitis in the US each year for all ages, with children accounting for ~7.3 million of these visits. In addition, 9,000-11,500 cases of severe, invasive GAS infections occur in the US each year, causing 1000-1800 deaths. Worldwide the WHO estimates that there are 616 million cases of GAS pharyngitis each year and 1.78 million cases of more severe GAS disease, causing 500,000 deaths.
According to the 2012 Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) clinical practice recommendations, at each office visit for a sore throat the physician should run a rapid strep test to distinguish GAS sore throat from viral causes so the patient can be treated appropriately.
Due to the high false-negative rate for rapid immunodiagnostic tests (RIDTs), the IDSA recommends further testing of all RIDT negatives with either a streptococcal DNA probe test or throat culture.
Accurate differentiation of bacterial infection from viral causes of sore throat can also lead to improved antibiotic utilization.