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Epidemiol Infect. 1988 Apr;100(2):257-69.

Changes in the pattern of infection caused by Streptococcus pyogenes.

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Division of Hospital Infection, Central Public Health Laboratory, London.


The distribution of T- and M-protein antigens was determined in 12,469 cultures of Streptococcus pyogenes sent to a reference laboratory. Of these 7232 (58%) were isolates from hospital patients, 249 (2%) from hospital staff and 4988 (40%) from the community. The survey extended from January 1980 to June 1987. During this time the numbers of isolates of M-types 6, 49 and 81 rose then fell, being replaced by types 1, 3 and 28. The proportion of isolates of M-types 4 and 12 remained constant. Few strains were received from cases of nephritis or rheumatic fever but there has been an increase in the number of strains from serious infections and deaths. Forty-four of the 55 (80%) strains received since 1985 from fatal infections have belonged to M-type 1. All other strains, bar two, received from fatal infections in those years belonged to M-type 3. Representatives of M-type 1 were also associated with erysipelas. Types 3 and 4 predominated among the isolates from scarlet fever, types 1, 4, 12 and 49 from nephritis, types 49 and 81 from skin infections in meat workers and type 28 in cases of puerperal sepsis. The M-typability rate was 97% but new M antigens await definition among strains causing pyoderma.

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