New findings show that Fusobacterium necrophorum, the bacterium responsible for most cases of Lemierre’s disease, a relatively rare condition that is sometimes called “the forgotten disease,” is also the culprit for more sore throats than Group A strep bacterium among college-aged patients. However, as there is no point-of-care test for F. necrophorum, providers need to rely on physical examination when determining whether a sore throat is due to the bacterial infection.
• In an analysis of 312 college students, investigators detected F. necrophorum in more than 20% of patients with symptoms of sore throat. Group A strep was only detected in 10% of the cases, and Group C or G strep was detected in 9% of the cases.
• Researchers note that the F. necrophorum bacterium is associated with both Lemierre’s disease and most cases involving a peritonsillar abscess, a deep infection of the head or neck that occurs most commonly in young adults.
• Infections caused by F. necrophorum can be effectively treated with penicillin or a cephalosporin, but do not typically respond to azithromycin.