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Chronic Strep Infections and Toothbrushes

If you have recurrent throat infections with staph or strep bacteria, check your toothbrush, your nose and your mate. Having staph in your nose prevents simple cuts from healing (2).

A report in the Archives of Otolaryngology shows that beta strep, that causes rheumatic fever, can be grown from toothbrushes of 30 percent of children who were infected with that germ and that beta strep can persist in unwashed toothbrushes for 15 days and washed toothbrushes for 3 days (3). Another bacteria called staph aureus can persist in the noses of people after they have taken the appropriate antibiotic (4). Staph grows so luxuriously in the wet nasal membranes that it is difficult to cure by taking oral antibiotics. You can also be reinfected by a mate who has no symptoms at all. If you suffer recurrent staph or strep infections, ask your doctor to culture your nose and your toothbrush.

If you have a staph aureus infection, apply an antibiotic ointment such as bacitracin or mupiricin in your nose. (4,5,6). You can also culture your mate and your toothbrush. If you still have not found a source, ask your doctor to culture his stethoscope. It may be the source of your infection (7).

1) VH Livingstone, CE Willis, J Berkowitz. Staphylococcus aureus and sore nipples. Canadian Family Physician 42 (APR 1996):654-659.

2) RP Wenzel, TM Perl. The significance of nasal carriage of Staphylococcus aureus and the incidence of postoperative wound infection. Journal of Hospital Infection 31: 1 (SEP 1995):13-24.

3) I Brook, AE Gober. Persistence of group A beta-hemolytic streptococci in toothbrushes and removable orthodontic appliances following treatment of pharyngotonsillitis. Archives of Otolaryngology - Head & Neck Surgery. 124: 9 (SEP 1998):993-995.

4) Archives of Internal Medicine July 11, 1994.

5) C Brunbuisson, A Rauss, P Legrand, H Mentec, M Ossart, F Eb, JP Sollet, F Leturdu, A Boillot, Y Michelbriand, JL Ricome, A Boisivon. Mupirocin Treatment of S Aureus Nasal Carriage and Prevention of Infection in Intensive Care Units: A Multicenter Controlled Study. Medecine et Maladies Infectieuses 24: 12 (DEC 1994):1229-1239.

6) C Watanakunakorn, C Axelson, B Bota, C Stahl. Mupirocin ointment with and without chlorhexidine baths in the eradication of Staphylococcus aureus nasal carriage in nursing home residents. American Journal of Infection Control 23: 5 (OCT 1995):306-309.

7) MA Smith, JJ Mathewson, IA Ulert, EG Scerpella, CD Ericsson. Contaminated stethoscopes revisited. Archives of Internal Medicine 156: 1 (JAN 8 1996):82-84.

Checked 3/19/13

June 1st, 2013
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About the Author: Gabe Mirkin, MD

Sports medicine doctor, fitness guru and long-time radio host Gabe Mirkin, M.D., brings you news and tips for your healthful lifestyle. A practicing physician for more than 50 years and a radio talk show host for 25 years, Dr. Mirkin is a graduate of Harvard University and Baylor University College of Medicine. He is board-certified in four specialties: Sports Medicine, Allergy and Immunology, Pediatrics and Pediatric Immunology. The Dr. Mirkin Show, his call-in show on fitness and health, was syndicated in more than 120 cities. Read More
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