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J Infect Dis. 2002 Apr 1;185(7):915-20. Epub 2002 Mar 19.

The heterogeneity of endemic community pediatric group a streptococcal pharyngeal isolates and their relationship to invasive isolates.

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Division of General Medicine, Children's Memorial Hospital, Northwestern University Medical School, Chicago, Illinois 60614, USA.


By use of molecular techniques, the genetic heterogeneity of 63 community pediatric pharyngeal group A streptococcal (GAS) isolates circulating within a 3-week period were compared with 17 contemporaneous invasive pediatric isolates. Pharyngitis isolates represented 16 pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) patterns with 12 emm serotypes, and invasive isolates represented 10 PFGE patterns with 9 emm serotypes. One-fourth of the pharyngeal isolates (16/63) were identical to at least 1 invasive isolate; conversely, 10 (59%) of 17 invasive isolates were identical to at least 1 pharyngeal strain. sic allele analysis of emm1 strains demonstrated additional heterogeneity and overlap. More pharyngeal (71%) than invasive isolates (35%) were positive for both speA and speC (P<.02). Many pharyngitis GAS strains circulate simultaneously. Most invasive pediatric GAS strains are identical to acute pharyngitis strains; thus, childhood pharyngitis is a major reservoir for strains with invasive potential. Pharyngeal isolates were more likely to be speA and speC positive than were the invasive isolates.

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