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Clin Microbiol Infect. 2000 Jan;6(1):2-8.

Pharyngeal colonization prevalence rates for Streptococcus pyogenes and Streptococcus pneumoniae in a respiratory chemoprophylaxis intervention study using azithromycin.

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Department of Preventive Medicine and Environmental Health, University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa 52241-1008, USA.



A prospective assessment of the pharyngeal colonization prevalence rates for Streptococcus pyogenes and Streptococcus pneumoniae before and after an azithromycin chemoprophylaxis intervention clinical trial in a cohort of US Marine Corps trainees. In addition, the minimum inhibitory concentrations (MICs) for all streptococcal isolates, for azithromycin, penicillin, erythromycin and cefotaxime are reported.


Between November 1994 and March 1995, 1108 asymptomatic male US Marine Corps trainees, located in Southern California, were randomly assigned to one of three intervention groups: (1) weekly oral azithromycin, 500 mg (n = 362); (2) 1.2 MU benzathine penicillin G, intramuscularly once (n = 374); or (3) no chemoprophylaxis (n = 372). Subjects provided both a pre- and post-training pharyngeal culture and microbial analysis was conducted to determine the colonization status of each study subject.


The pretraining colonization prevalence was 1.2% for S. pneumoniae and 2.4% for S. pyogenes. There was no statistical difference in pretraining prevalence between the three treatment groups for either organism. Post-training pharyngeal cultures revealed an overall prevalence of 1.1% with no difference between treatment arms. However, the overall post-training prevalence of S. pyogenes colonization increased to 4.8%, with the azithromycin group having significant evidence of protection (0.7%) in comparison with the no-treatment group (8.2%). The Etest method demonstrated no significant difference in the MIC50, MIC90, and MIC ranges between pre- and post-training isolates for any of the tested drugs.


The use of azithromycin as a chemoprophylactic agent to reduce the colonization and subsequent infection of streptococcal respiratory disease among healthy adult male military recruits may be beneficial.

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