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Incidence of bacterial colonization in the oropharynx of patients with ear, nose and throat infections

Beulah Edwin, Vincent Prasanna, Iyanar Kannan, V M Hemlata Katiyar, Elango Dhanapal.


Background: The ear, nose and throat infections are one of the common diseases for which patients often visit the primary care physicians. The oropharynx is a unique region of the human body colonised heavily by normal bacterial flora.

Aim & Objective: The present study has been undertaken to find the incidence of bacterial colonization in the oropharynx of patients with ear, nose and throat infections.

Materials and Methods: Forty patients in the age group of 5-75 yrs presenting to the ENT department with symptoms and signs suggestive of ear, nose, or throat infections were included in the study. Throat swabs in duplicate were taken using sterile swab stick and streaked onto a standard commercial sheep blood agar plate and MacConkey agar plate and were incubated at 37OC. After 14 to 24 h of incubation, the plates were examined for the growth of bacterial colonies. The bacteria isolated were identified by standard biochemical tests.

Results: The viridans streptococcus is seen colonised in almost all the patients. Streptococcus pyogenes has been isolated from only one patient with acute pharyngitis. 3 patients showed the presence of Klebsiella pneumoniae. Among this, two patients suffered from acute pharyngitis and one from acute otitis media. A patient with chronic suppurative otitis media with acute pharyngitis showed the presence of Proteus vulgaris.

Conclusion: The results showed that the oropharynx remains same harbouring only the normal flora indicating that ENT infections in most of the cases are due to either viral or fungal. It can also be concluded that the presence of abundant normal flora in oropharynx should have inhibitory effect on the colonisation pathogenic bacteria.

Key words: Oropharynx; ENT Infections; Bacterial Colonisation

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