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J Med Microbiol. 2004 Oct;53(Pt 10):1029-35.

Real-time PCR investigation into the importance of Fusobacterium necrophorum as a cause of acute pharyngitis in general practice.

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Clinical Microbiology and Public Health Laboratory, Health Protection Agency, Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge, UK.


Fusobacterium necrophorum is recognized as the cause of a severe life-threatening illness characterized by bacteraemia with metastatic abscesses following an acute sore throat (Lemierre's disease). However, the importance of F. necrophorum as a cause of simple sore throat in the community is unknown. Using quantitative real-time PCR with primers targeting the rpoB gene, 100 routine throat swabs collected from patients presenting to general practitioners with pharyngitis were analysed for the presence of F. necrophorum-specific DNA. The results were compared with those obtained from throat swabs collected from 100 healthy subjects. Ten clinical samples were positive for F. necrophorum DNA, identified as F. necrophorum subspecies funduliforme, using a haemagglutinin-related protein gene-specific PCR assay. All the healthy controls were negative (two-tailed P value = 0.0015; Fisher exact test). These findings suggest that F. necrophorum may play a more important role as a cause of simple sore throat in the community than has been previously appreciated.

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