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J Infect Dis. 1996 Apr;173(4):901-8.

Genetic and phenotypic diversity among isolates of Streptococcus pyogenes from invasive infections.

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Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Oklahoma City, USA.


To determine if recent cases of invasive group A streptococcal disease were caused by strains with a unique characteristic, 117 isolates Streptococcus pyogenes from patients with a variety of diseases, including necrotizing fasciitis and toxic shock syndrome, were analyzed. Significant genomic heterogeneity was observed among selected isolates, as determined using pulsed-field gel electrophoresis. The frequency of the bacteriophage-associated streptococcal erythrogenic toxin genes A and C (speA and speC) among the isolates was 44% (49/112) and 34% (38/112), respectively. Forty-three percent of speA-positive isolates produced streptococcal erythrogenic toxin (SPE) A in vitro. Seventy-six percent (85/112) of isolates produced SPE B in vitro, and in contrast to SPE A, little variation in the concentration of SPE B in broth culture supernatants was detected. The genetic and phenotypic heterogeneity observed among isolates from recent cases of severe infection does not support a clonal basis for the resurgence of invasive streptococcal infections.

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