Children with bone and joint infections often carry the same infectious bacteria in throat

Children with bone and joint infections often carry the same infectious bacteria in throat

The presence of the bacterium Kingella kingae in children’s throats was strongly linked to a bone and joint infection with the same bacterium, according to research published in Canadian Medical Association Journal.

Bone and joint bacterial infections in children can have devastating effects on long-term mobility and can cause death. Previously, most infections were thought to be caused by Staphylococcus, Streptococcus and Haemophilus influenzae type b bacteria and were treated with long-term antibiotics and/or surgery. Over the last few years, new techniques have allowed more precise identification of the bacteria responsible for these infections.

The study, between two paediatric centres in Canada and Switzerland, included 77 children aged six months to four years of age, admitted for suspected bone or joint infection and 286 controls. Of the suspected infections, 65 children had confirmed bone or joint infection.

“Using improved diagnostic methods, our study found that the vast majority of children younger than four years old suffering from a bone or joint infection were infected by Kingella kingae bacteria,” said Jocelyn Gravel, Centre hospitalier universitaire Sainte-Justine, Université de Montréal, Quebec. “More importantly, we discovered that 70 per cent of children who had a bone/joint infection carried these bacteria in their throats, while it is uncommon in uninfected children (only 6 per cent).”

These results are important because the proportion of unknown pathogen was very high in previous studies. Now, using innovative diagnosis methods, this study demonstrated the K. kingae is not uncommon. Rather, it is by far the most common pathogen for bone or joint infection in children.

“Based on this study, we plan to change the way we investigate children at risk of bone/joint infection, and help decrease the number of other tests performed.”

Source: Canadian Medical Association Journal

Reference: Jocelyn Gravel, and others. Association between oropharyngeal carriage of Kingella kingae and osteoarticular infection in young children: a case–control study. Canadian Medical Association Journal, 2017; 189 (35): E1107 DOI: 10.1503/cmaj.170127

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