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T. Tonsurans Rate High in Black Children in Kansas City

12.9 percent of black kids tested were infected, compared with 6.6 percent of kids overall

THURSDAY, April 22 (HealthDay News) -- Of Kansas City schoolchildren tested for Trichophyton tonsurans infection, 6.6 percent exhibited positive cultures, and black children had the highest prevalence of infection, according to a study published online April 19 in Pediatrics.

Susan M. Abdel-Rahman, of Children's Mercy Hospitals and Clinics in Kansas City, Mo., and colleagues conducted a surveillance study of 10,514 children in kindergarten through grade five in 44 schools in the bi-state (Missouri and Kansas) Kansas City metropolitan area to determine the prevalence of T. tonsurans infection, which is the leading cause of tinea capitis.

The researchers note that, overall, T. tonsurans was detected on 6.6 percent of the children whose scalps were examined, with infection rates at the schools ranging from 0 to 19.4 percent, and spiking to more than 30 percent at a particular grade level in some schools. Black children had the highest rates of infection at 12.9 percent, with the rate approaching 18 percent in younger black children. In comparison, 1.6 percent of Hispanic children and 1.1 percent of white children were infected. In 16.6 percent of classrooms where T. tonsurans could be recovered from more than one child, there was a single genetic strain of T. tonsurans, while in 51.4 percent of these classrooms, each case represented a unique genetic strain.

"The striking prevalence rates observed, especially among the youngest children evaluated, and the distribution of genetic heterogeneity within the isolates that were acquired confirm the extent to which this pathogen is endemic among black children and call attention to the need for enhanced infection-control measures in this population," the authors write.

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