Brits are being warned to be on the lookout for highly contagious bacterial infection you may assume is just a sore throat.

Sore throats are more likely to appear during winter months due to the cold air and spreading of germs, but they can also appear at other times of the year.

While a common sore throat usually clears up within a week, sometimes it can signal another condition like strep throat.

Strep throat is an infection caused by a type of bacteria called group A strep (GAS).

It usually needs treatment with antibiotics and can be very contagious.

Superdrug’s Pharmacy Superintendent Niamh McMillan explained: “A sore throat usually heals within a week and may have milder symptoms than strep throat. With strep throat there are other symptoms such as finding it difficult to swallow and red and swollen tonsils, all of which aren’t symptoms of a regular sore throat.”

Symptoms can include swollen lymph glands, a fever and a headache or stomach pain.

Niamh added: “Another symptom of strep throat is swollen lymph glands, so to check if yours are swollen gently, press around the neck and near the side of your face. Swollen lymph glands will feel like a lump and may be tender to touch.

Other symptoms that usually appear with strep throat, and not a sore throat, is a fever, so make sure to monitor changes in your temperature.

Sometimes, people who have a sore throat can have other illnesses such as cold and flu which can also have fever symptoms, so it’s best to be vigilant and watch out for all symptoms listed, or speak to a healthcare professional for a second opinion.

“There are some less common symptoms of strep throat such as a headache and stomach pain, so if you have these in addition to previously mentioned symptoms, please seek help from your GP.”