By Robert Preidt
THURSDAY, January 30, 2020 (HealthDay News) – When a child has strep throat, an antibiotic such as penicillin usually has them back at school 24 hours later.
But a new study warns that strains of bacteria that cause streptococcal pharyngitis and "meat eating disease" seem to be close to becoming resistant to penicillin and other antibiotics known as beta-lactams.
"If this germ becomes really resistant to these antibiotics, it would have a very serious impact on millions of children worldwide," said lead study author Dr. James Musser, president of pathology and genomic medicine at the Methodist Hospital of Houston
"That is a very worrying but plausible notion based on our findings," Musser said in a hospital press release.
The international team of researchers analyzed more than 7,000 strains of group A streptococci collected over several decades around the world. They found that about 2% had genetic mutations of interest.
The tests confirmed that these strains have a lower susceptibility to beta-lactam antibiotics. That suggests that these antibiotics may eventually become less effective or completely ineffective against these strains, according to the researchers.
The study's findings highlight the urgency of developing a group A strep vaccine, the researchers said.
"We could be seeing a global problem of infectious diseases of public health," Musser said. "When strep throat does not respond to first-line antibiotics, such as penicillin, doctors should start prescribing second-line therapies, which may not be as effective against this organism."
Group A streptococcus causes 20% -30% of sore throat in children and 5% -15% of sore throat in adults, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. UU.
According to the CDC, that same strain is considered the most common cause of necrotizing fasciitis that feeds on meat. The bacteria usually enter the body through a break in the skin, and rapid antibiotic treatment is essential.
The study was published online on January 29 in the Journal of Clinical Microbiology.
Musser and his colleagues plan further research to learn how group A streptococcal mutations arise in people, how they can affect health and how they can alter the virulence of the bacteria.