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Clin Infect Dis. 2009 Sep 1;49(5):766-72. doi: 10.1086/605085.

Human infections due to Streptococcus dysgalactiae subspecies equisimilis.

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Institute of Medical Microbiology and Hospital Hygiene, University Hospital Frankfurt am Main, Johann Wolfgang Goethe University, Frankfurt am Main, Germany.


Human streptococci that belong to Streptococcus dysgalactiae subspecies equisimilis (SDSE) have long been known under the name of beta-hemolytic groups C and G streptococci. Extensive taxonomic studies during the past years have distinguished most of the veterinary pathogens belonging to Lancefield groups C and G from those of human origin. After being considered nonpathogenic for many years, SDSE is now recognized as an important bacterial pathogen. The clinical spectrum of diseases caused by this species closely resembles Streptococcus pyogenes infections, including the occurrence of poststreptococcal sequelae. In accordance with these observations, many of the virulence factors present in S. pyogenes can also be found in SDSE strains. High nucleotide-sequence identities in virulence genes and the association of these genes with mobile genetic elements support the hypothesis of extensive horizontal gene-transfer events among streptococcal species of the pyogenic group. Recent epidemiological studies have shown increasing numbers of invasive SDSE infections, often among immunocompromised patients, and suggest that this species will probably gain even more clinical importance in the near future. For a better understanding of the changing epidemiology and pathogenicity of SDSE, an increased awareness of these microorganisms as human pathogens and proper identification are mandatory.

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