Outbreak of group A streptococcus septicemia in children. Clinical, epidemiologic, and microbiological correlates

JAMA. 1991 Jul 24-31;266(4):533-7.


Objective: To determine the epidemiologic, clinical, and microbiological features of group A streptococcus septicemia in children.

Design: A descriptive series of 34 cases over an 11-year period from 1980 through 1990.

Setting: An academically affiliated tertiary-care pediatric hospital, the principal referral center for the state of Colorado and surrounding states.

Participants: Thirty-four patients with positive blood cultures for group A streptococcus (33 medical records were available).

Main outcome measures: Yearly incidence and clinical features of cases; microbiological features of isolated organisms.

Results: There was a significant increase (P = .01) in the incidence of group A streptococcus bacteremia over an 11-year period, with 14 (41%) of these cases occurring in 1989 and 1990. Patients had a rapidly progressing illness, usually without preceding pharyngitis. The prominent M and T types were 1 (4) and 12 (4). Eleven (73%) of the 15 strains produced pyrogenic exotoxin B that significantly correlated with production of proteinase.

Conclusion: There appears to be an increase in group A streptococcus bacteremia in children that is associated with a strain phenotype that suggests a change in organism virulence.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Colorado / epidemiology
  • Disease Outbreaks*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sepsis / epidemiology*
  • Streptococcal Infections / epidemiology*
  • Streptococcus pyogenes* / pathogenicity
  • Virulence