Acute sore throat and Fusobacterium necrophorum in primary healthcare: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Purpose The main objective of this review was to describe and quantify the association between Fusobacterium necrophorum (FN) and acute sore throat in primary healthcare (PHC). Methods In this systematic review and meta-analysis, we searched Scopus and PubMed for case-control studies reporting the prevalence of FN in patients attending primary care for an uncomplicated acute sore throat as well as in healthy controls. Only studies published in English were considered. Publications were not included if they were case studies, or if they included patients prescribed antibiotics before the throat swab, patients with a concurrent malignant disease, on immunosuppression, having an HIV infection, or patients having another acute infection in addition to a sore throat. Inclusion criteria and methods were specified in advance and published in PROSPERO. The primary outcome was positive etiologic predictive value (P-EPV), quantifying the probability for an association between acute sore throat and findings of FN in the pharynx. For comparison, our secondary outcome was the corresponding P-EPV for group A Streptococcus (GAS). Results PubMed and Scopus yielded 258 and 232 studies, respectively. Removing duplicates and screening the abstracts resulted in 53 studies subsequently read in full text. For the four studies of medium to high quality included in the meta-analysis, the cumulative P-EPV regarding FN was 64% (95% CI 33% to 83%). GAS, based on data from the same publications and patients, yielded a positive EPV of 93% (95% CI 83% to 99%). Conclusions The results indicate that FN may play a role in PHC patients with an acute sore throat, but the association is much weaker compared with GAS.


  • Stefan Malmberg
  • Susanna Petrén
  • Ronny Gunnarsson
  • Katarina Hedin
  • Pär Daniel Sundvall
External organisations
  • University of Gothenburg
  • Linköping University
  • Jönköping County Council
  • The County of Västra Götaland
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Family Medicine


  • diagnostic microbiology, epidemiology, infectious diseases, primary care
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere042816
JournalBMJ Open
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Jun 4
Publication categoryResearch