Although most cases of acute pharyngitis are viral in origin, antibiotics are overused in its treatment. Streptococcus pyogenes (group A streptococcus, GAS), the principal bacterial pathogen of acute sore throat, is responsible for merely 5–30% of cases. Moreover, GAS pharyngitis is currently the only commonly occurring form of acute pharyngitis for which antibiotic therapy is definitely indicated. Therefore the differentiation between GAS pharyngitis and that of viral etiology is crucial. Accordingly, scientific societies as well as respected advisory bodies in Europe and North America, issued guidelines for the management of acute pharyngitis with the aim of minimizing unnecessary antibiotic prescriptions in its treatment. The aim of this review work is to confront the state of the art in acute GAS pharyngitis diagnosis and treatment with different approaches to its management represented by current European and North American guidelines. Although based on scientific evidence, international guidelines differ substantially in opinions whether GAS pharyngitis diagnosis should be based on microbiological testing, clinical algorithm or a combination of both. On the other hand, some European guidelines consider GAS pharyngitis to be a mild, self-limiting disease that does not require a specific diagnosis or antimicrobial treatment except in high-risk patients. There is an agreement among guidelines that if antibiotic therapy is indicated, phenoxymethyl penicillin should be the drug of choice to treat GAS pharyngitis.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
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