DC – Word on the street has it you should replace your toothbrush after suffering
from a cold, the flu or a bout of strep throat. That may not be necessary — at
least when it comes to sore throats, according to a study to be presented Saturday,
May 4, at the Pediatric Academic Societies (PAS) annual meeting in Washington,
care professionals advise children to toss their toothbrushes if they have been
diagnosed with strep throat. Researchers from University of Texas Medical
Branch (UTMB) at Galveston wanted to determine if that advice is warranted.
tried to grow group A Streptococcus
(GAS), the bacteria that causes strep throat, on toothbrushes that had been
exposed to the bacteria in a laboratory. The bacteria did in fact grow and remained
on the toothbrushes for at least 48 hours.
two new toothbrushes that were not exposed to GAS and served as controls also
grew bacteria even though they had been removed from their packaging in a
sterile fashion. An adult-size toothbrush grew gram-negative bacilli, and a
child-size toothbrush grew gram-positive cocci, which was identified as Staphylococcus. Since this was not the
main focus of the study, the researchers did not investigate this finding
they investigated whether GAS would grow on toothbrushes used by children who
had strep throat. Fourteen patients who were diagnosed with strep throat, 13
patients with sore throats without strep and 27 well patients ages 2 to 20
years were instructed to brush their teeth for one minute with a new
toothbrush. Afterwards, the toothbrushes were placed in a sterile cover and
taken to a lab where they were tested for GAS bacteria growth.
recovered from only one toothbrush, which had been used by a patient without strep
throat. The other study toothbrushes failed to grow GAS but did grow other
bacteria that are common in the mouth.
study supports that it is probably unnecessary to throw away your toothbrush
after a diagnosis of strep throat,” said co-author Judith L. Rowen, MD, associate
professor of pediatrics in the Department of Pediatrics at UTMB.
co-author Lauren K. Shepard, DO, a resident physician in the Department of
Pediatrics at UTMB, noted that the study was small. Larger studies with more
subjects need to be conducted to confirm that group A Streptococcus does not grow on toothbrushes used at home by children
with strep throat, she said.
the abstract, “Group A Streptococcus
on Toothbrushes,” go to http://www.abstracts2view.com/pas/view.php?nu=PAS13L1_1533.464.
Academic Societies (PAS) are four individual pediatric organizations that
co-sponsor the PAS Annual Meeting – the American Pediatric Society, the Society
for Pediatric Research, the Academic Pediatric Association, and the American
Academy of Pediatrics. Members of these organizations are pediatricians and
other health care providers who are practicing in the research, academic and
clinical arenas. The four sponsoring organizations are leaders in the
advancement of pediatric research and child advocacy within pediatrics, and all
share a common mission of fostering the health and well-being of children
For more information, visit www.pas-meeting.org. Follow news of the PAS meeting on Twitter at http://twitter.com/PedAcadSoc.