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Sick of Strep Throat

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (Ivanhoe Broadcast News) -- It's that time of year!

Like most 7-year-olds, Josh Butler has no time for sick days. But every winter, Josh is sidelined with strep throat. Josh usually gets the drug amoxicillin, but it never works. He always needs a second treatment with a different drug.

"It was kind of frustrating," Josh's mom, Nikki, says. "'Oh my goodness. Why can't we just get this right the first time?'"

Strep throat is the second-most-common reason children get antibiotics. But the gold standard antibiotics they get don't always clear up the infection.

Pediatric infectious disease specialist Michael Pichichero, M.D., of the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York, says, says the standard strep drugs -- amoxicillin and penicillin -- fail in about 25 percent of kids. "Strep is not actually resistant to penicillin or amoxicillin so, that cannot explain the failures that we're seeing," he says.

Instead, other bacteria are the problem. More than half of kids have bacteria in their throats that protect strep germs.

Dr. Pichichero says, "This is very much different from 20 or 30 years ago where almost all children treated with penicillin and amoxicillin would be cured."

But his research shows newer drugs can kill strep. One in four kids fails treatment with penicillin. One in six fails newer drugs called cephalosporins. Only one in 20 fail the newer versions of those drugs. The newer antibiotics only need to be taken for four to five days, rather than the 10-day course of the older drugs.

Nikki thinks Josh will get strep throat again this winter, but she's hoping the newer drugs will take care of it the first time around.

Click here to Go Inside This Science or contact:

Michael Pichichero, M.D.
Professor of Microbiology & Immunology
University of Rochester
Rochester, NY
(585) 275-1534
michael_pichichero@urmc.rochester.edu


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