Antimicrobial Resistance and rheumatogenicity of Group A Streptococcus isolated during SToP trial baseline sampling

Strep A skin disease in remote WA

Indigenous Australian children suffer the highest rates of skin sores in the world. Skin sores are infections caused by the bacterial pathogen “Strep A” (Group A Streptococcus), and frequently also involve “Staph” (Staphylococcus aureus) co-infections. Severe consequences of skin sores include invasive diseases and, in the case of Strep A, autoimmune diseases of the kidneys (Acute Post-Streptococcal Glomerulonephritis, APSGN) and probably the heart (Acute Rheumatic Fever, ARF). While these severe consequences occur in only a small proportion of patients, the high rate of skin sores means that these diseases are common in Indigenous Australian communities.

This fellowship has two aims that will investigate two important features of Strep A infections, antibiotic resistance and ARF, and will complement one of the major outputs of the HOT NORTH Skin Health Theme (the SToP trial), that is about to begin in the WA Kimberley region. The results of the first aim will help us to identify antibiotic resistance early, so that doctors have the option to modify treatments and prevent the spread of antibiotic-resistant infections. The second aim will investigate a link that I have identified between ARF and a protein that is on the surface of some Strep A bacteria. If this link is confirmed, we can then use this information to design a medical test to correctly detect ARF, and to design better medicines to treat ARF. As Indigenous Australians also suffer the highest rates in the world of ARF, and the resulting damage to the heart called Rheumatic Heart Disease (RHD), this research will help to reduce the impact of these diseases on Indigenous Australian communities.

  • Dr Timothy Barnett

  • Professor Jonathan Carapetis

  • Telethon Kids Institute

  • 2019-2020

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