In the management of β-hemolytic streptococcal illness, the use of bacteriologic methods is essential. These methods can and should be simple and inexpensive, but adequate diagnosis and follow-up depends on their use. Although many streptococcal infections other than those in the neonate may be recognized or excluded on clinical grounds, errors are commonplace. Results of a culture provide the only reasonably sure means of diagnosis within several days of the onset of illness.
In the vast majority of streptococcal illnesses, the organism can be isolated in appreciable numbers. Sometimes, they are missed for a variety of reasons, including the use of antibiotics. Second, because streptococcal carriers exist, the presence of streptococci on culture does not necessarily mean that they are the causal agent. However, the finding of a strongly positive culture is of great diagnostic value and most clinicians depend on it as the best guide to proper diagnosis.
Breese BB. β-Hemolytic Streptococcus: Its Bacteriologic Culture and Character. Am J Dis Child. 1978;132(5):502–508. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1978.02120300062013
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