PEORIA Ill. (WMBD) — Strep throat cases have been on the rise throughout the country.

After a seven-year-old girl from Bloomington and a 4-year-old girl from Peoria recently died from the illness, officials are advising parents and caregivers to be on the lookout for any symptoms of strep throat.

But what are the symptoms? How can you tell the difference between a sore throat and strep throat?

Dr. Kristine Ray, a pediatric doctor at OSF healthcare explains exactly what you should be looking out for.

“The classic symptoms of strep throat are gonna be fever, sore throat, and headache,” said Ray.

She says symptoms in kids also include stomachaches or rashes on the torso. Viral symptoms like congestion, coughing, or runny nose are usually signs of the cold or flu and not step throat.

“Not just at my practice but all around town, the state, and the country have seen a huge increase in the number of strep cases. This morning alone I think I had four positive strep cases, that’s a lot,” said Ray.

Strep throat is highly contagious and passed through droplets.

The Illinois department of public health suggests washing your hands, covering your mouth when coughing or sneezing, and not sharing drinks.

Peoria County Coroner Jamie Harwood advised parents to pay attention to their kids’ behaviors and to seek medical help if they see symptoms.

“It can progress rather fast or it can take its time. It’s very sad and unfortunate that this is the outcome of something so aggressive as strep A can be,” said Harwood.