Few Children Have Repeat Bouts of Strep Throat

Two percent of children aged 4 to 6 are infected, but percentage drops with age

TUESDAY, Sept. 12 (HealthDay News) -- Only one percent of children between the ages of 4 and 15 have repeated bouts of pharyngitis due to group A beta-hemolytic streptococcus bacteria, researchers report in the September issue of Mayo Clinic Proceedings.

Jennifer L. St. Sauver, Ph.D., of the Mayo Clinic of Medicine, in Rochester, Minn., and colleagues studied 208 Rochester children aged four to 15 who were diagnosed with group A beta-hemolytic streptococcal pharyngitis at least three times from 1996 through 1998. The infections occurred at one-month intervals or more and were diagnosed with a rapid strep test or positive throat culture.

Based on these cases, the researchers estimate that one percent of the children aged 4 to 15 had repeated bouts of strep throat. The prevalence ranged from two percent of four- to six-year-olds to 0.1 percent of 13- to 15-year-olds.

"A relatively small proportion (1 percent) of children between 4 and 15 years of age experienced repeated group A beta-hemolytic streptococcal pharyngitis episodes in a three-year period; however, this proportion represents a substantial number of children who are affected at the population level," the authors wrote.

The authors recommended more study of the problem. But in an editorial, Alan L. Bisno, M.D., of the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, in Miami, Fla., questions whether the infection's low prevalence "justifies the effort and expense of such studies."

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