F. Necrophorum Emerging As Growing Cause of Sore Throats

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Like strep, F. Necrophorum is easy to treat with penicillin.
Like strep, F. Necrophorum is easy to treat with penicillin.

HealthDay News -- Fusobacterium necrophorum is responsible for one in five sore throats in young adults, a new study suggests. The report was published in a recent issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.

To estimate the prevalence of F. Necrophorum, Robert Centor, MD, a professor of medicine at the University of Alabama School of Medicine at Birmingham, and colleagues studied 312 students who sought treatment for sore throat at the University of Alabama at Birmingham Student Health Clinic. 

The researchers compared them with 180 students who did not have a sore throat. The researchers found the F. Necrophorum bacteria in 20.5% of patients with sore throat symptoms and about 9% of those without sore throats. It was the most common bacteria found.

"If it looks like strep but it isn't strep, it could be this," Centor told HealthDay. F. Necrophorum appears to only infect teens and young adults, and about one in 400 of them will develop a serious complication, Centor said. But like strep, F. Necrophorum is easy to treat with penicillin.

Jeffrey Linder, MD, MPH, an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and author of an accompanying editorial, stressed that only a serious sore throat should be treated with antibiotics. "I am concerned that this study is going to lead to more antibiotic prescribing than we have now," Linder told HealthDay.

Reference

1. Centor RM, et al. Ann Intern Med. 2015;162(4):241-247. doi:10.7326/M14-1305

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