Screening of Corynebacterium diphtheriae, Corynebacterium ulcerans and Corynebacterium pseudotuberculosis in Throat Swab Specimens of Children with Upper Respiratory Tract Infections

Gayretli Aydin Z. G. , Tanir G., Nar Otgun S., Turan M., Aydin Teke T., Kaman A., ...Daha Fazla

MIKROBIYOLOJI BULTENI, cilt.51, ss.209-219, 2017 (SCI İndekslerine Giren Dergi) identifier identifier identifier

  • Cilt numarası: 51 Konu: 3
  • Basım Tarihi: 2017
  • Doi Numarası: 10.5578/mb.57400
  • Sayfa Sayıları: ss.209-219


Although a significant decrease has been reported in the incidence of diphteria in many regions of the world following the routine diphtheria immunization programs, the emergence of new cases indicated that toxigenic strains are still circulating in the community. Diphtheria vaccine does not provide protection against asymptomatic carriage and colonization of non-toxigenic Corynebacterium diphtheriae. It is a known fact that invasive infections may arise from non-toxigenic C. diphtheriae strains that the non-toxigenic strains can become toxigenic strains leading to diphteria. It is also known that there is a risk of diphteria outbreaks due to decreased antitoxin level and inadequate adult immunization programs. In our country, there is no routine surveillance of toxigenic and non-toxigenic C. diphtheriae. In the present study we aimed to investigate the presence of C. diphtheriae, Corynebacterium ulcerans and Corynebacterium pseudotuberculosis in children presenting with the symptoms of upper respiratory tract infections that might be confused with those moderate diphteria, in order to highlight the requirement of microbiological surveillance and to create awareness about these microorganisms among public health experts, microbiologists and clinicians. Throat swab specimens were obtained from children who were admitted to the pediatric outpatient clinics, in Dr. Sami Ulus Obstectrics, Children Health andDiseases Educational and Research Hospital, with upper respiratory tract infections between 1 February 2016-22 March 2016. The specimens were inoculated in 5% sheep blood agar plates. The plates that were incubated in appropriate conditions, were evaluated for Group A beta hemolytic streptococcocci. Subsequently, culture plates were sent to the Public Health Institution of Turkey, National Respiratory Pathologens Reference Laboratories for the investigation of the presence of C. diphtheriae, C. ulcerans and C. pseudotuberculosis. The growth in each plate were collected with a sterile swab and inoculated in tryptic soy broth. Following 2 hours of incubation at 37 degrees C, subcultures were inoculated in cystine-tellurite-blood agar (CTBA) and 5% sheep-blood agar plates; after an overnight incubation tellurite-reducing colonies were inoculated in Tinsdale agar plates. The suspected colonies with positive cystinase activity were identified by conventional methods and also with Coryne API (Biomerieux, France) systems. Toxicity tests (ELEK, PCR) were performed to investigate whether the C. diphtheriae strains were producing toxins. A total of 500 patients were involved in the study. Of these 260 (52%) were girls and 240 (48%) were boys with a mean age of 76 (range, 21-213) months. All patients except one were fully vaccinated with boosters. Most common presenting symptoms of the patients were fever (19.8%), sore throat (52.6%), cough (49.2%), tonsillar hyperemia (97.6%), presence of crypt (24.6%), and membrane over tonsils (1%). Group A beta-hemolytic streptococcocci were detected in the throat swab cultures of 66 (% 13.2) patients. Genotypically toxin negative C. diphtheriae biovar gravis was identified in the throat swab cultures of 3 patients (2 girls and 1 boy). The tonsils were hyperemic and hypertrophic in all the patients with C. diphtheriae biovar gravis. C. ulcerans and C. pseudotuberculosis were detected in none of the patients. It is considered that similar regular cross-sectional studies or routine screening programs are expected to raise awareness about this forgotten microorganism both epidemiologically and microbiologically.