Erythrogenic toxin type A (ETA) is assumed to play a causative role in both scarlet fever and the streptococcal toxic shock-like syndrome (TSLS). For a molecular epidemiological analysis of the gene of erythrogenic toxin type A (speA) we used altogether 497 clinical isolates of Streptococcus pyogenes belonging to three groups: isolates from patients with scarlet fever isolates from cases with TSLS isolates from patients with other streptococcal infections (like otitis media, tonsillitis, impetigo) (general group) We found that less than 50% of the scarlet fever-associated strains possessed the speA gene as compared to 25% of the general group. Only 5 to 30% of these strains secreted the toxin under experimental conditions in very low quantities. Among strains isolated from TSLS, 67% appeared to contain the speA gene. The amount of ETA secreted into the medium was also extremely low. Southern hybridization patterns proved to be the same with an speAspecific probe in all three groups of streptococcal isolates (HaeIII, HindIII). Increased occurrence of the speA gene among scarlet fever and TSLS-associated strains does not seem to be sufficient to support the hypothesis that ETA may have a causative role in both diseases since a considerable number of strains in these groups did not possess the speA gene. © 1993, Gustav Fischer Verlag, Stuttgart · Jena · New York. All rights reserved.
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