Strep infection: Could a pet be the carrier?

My question is about diseases transmitted from pets. We have recurrent strep infections among our six children, and have been unsuccessful in locating the carrier. Is it possible that our pet dog is the carrier, or at least the source of the infection?

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Robert Steele

Robert W. Steele, MD, is a board certified pediatrician at St. John's Regional Health Center in Springfield, MO. He graduated from medical... Read more

What an insightful question! Strep throat infections are most commonly spread from person-to-person. When there are recurrent infections within a household, there is cause to search for a carrier. Most of the time, a person is identified to be the carrier. This person may often be the only one who has not had sore throat symptoms. On the other hand, the carrier may also be someone who seems to get recurrent infections, but when re-cultured after adequate antibiotic therapy is found to still have the strep bug present.

There have been several articles which have presumably identified the family dog or cat as the source of strep infections. However, a more recent article has challenged this notion due to the fact that the original studies may have incorrectly identified the bacteria as the strep bug.

The more recent article, which was well done, really casts a doubt that the family dog is the source of the strep infections. However, that doesn't mean you couldn't investigate the possibility. I suggest you talk to your veterinarian about culturing the dog looking specifically for Group A beta-hemolytic streptococcus (the bug which causes strep throat). If that bacteria is isolated, you've got your man (or in this case, your dog).

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