Throat culture positivity rate and antibiotic susceptibility pattern of beta-hemolytic streptococci in children on secondary prophylaxis for rheumatic heart disease

BMC Infect Dis. 2016 Sep 23;16(1):510. doi: 10.1186/s12879-016-1841-3.


Background: Among children diagnosed to have chronic rheumatic valvular heart disease (RHD) in Ethiopia, many have been observed to develop recurrence of rheumatic fever (RF) despite secondary prophylaxis. This study determined the throat culture positivity rate and drug susceptibility pattern of beta hemolytic streptococci (BHS) isolated from children attending a specialized cardiac clinic in Ethiopia.

Methods: Throat swabs were collected from 233 children receiving benzathine penicillin injection as secondary prophylaxis for RHD and cultured. The bacterial isolates were characterized using Matrix Assisted Laser Desorption/Ionization-Time of Flight (MALDI-TOF) mass spectrometry. Drug susceptibility was tested with the Kirby Bauer disc diffusion method. Anti-streptolysin O (ASO) titers were determined using ASO latex reagents.

Results: The throat culture positivity rate for BHS was 24 % (56/233). Among the BHS bacterial strains isolated, four were characterized as S. pyogenes and another four as S. dysgalactiae subsp. equisimilis (Lancefield group A, C and G). All BHS were susceptible to penicillin except one isolate of S. agalactiae. Among 233 children enrolled, 46(19.7 %) showed increased ASO titer. Children who received antibiotic prophylaxis within 2-weeks of last injection had significantly lower BHS throat culture positivity rate than those injected every 4-weeks (p = 0.02). Children who missed at least one prophylaxis within the last 6 months had a higher BHS culture positivity rate than those who did not miss any (p = 0.0003).

Conclusions: The presence of groups A, C and G streptococci in the throat of children under secondary prophylaxis for RHD and increased ASO titer suggests failure of the regimen. This calls for further investigation into the causes of inadequate prophylaxis (including bioavailability of drugs used, optimal duration and patient compliance) and intervention.

Keywords: Antibiotic prophylaxis; Antibiotic resistance; Beta hemolytic streptococci (BHS); Ethiopia; Rheumatic fever (RF); Rheumatic heart disease (RHD); Streptococcus dysgalactiae subsp. equisimilis; Streptococcus pyogenes.