Background: Diagnosis and treatment of pharyngotonsillitis are commonly focused on group A streptococci (GAS), although the disease is often associated with other pathogens. While the incidence of pharyngotonsillitis is known to vary with season, seasonal variations in the prevalence of potential pathogens are sparsely explored. The aim of this study was to explore any seasonal variations in the use and outcome of rapid antigen detection tests (RADTs) for GAS and throat cultures among patients diagnosed with pharyngotonsillitis in primary care. Methods: We retrieved and combined retrospective data from the electronic medical record system and the laboratory information system in Kronoberg County, Sweden. Primary care visits resulting in a diagnosis of tonsillitis or pharyngitis were included, covering the period 2013–2016. The monthly rate of visits was measured, along with the use and outcome of RADTs for GAS and throat cultures obtained on the date of diagnosis. The variations between calendar months were then analysed. Results: We found variations between calendar months, not only in the mean rate of visits resulting in a diagnosis of pharyngotonsillitis (p < 0.001), but in the mean proportion of RADTs being positive for GAS among the diagnosed (p < 0.001), and in the mean proportion of visits associated with a throat culture (p < 0.001). A lower mean rate of visits in August and September coincided with a lower proportion of RADTs being positive for GAS among them, which correlated with a higher proportion of visits associated with a throat culture. Conclusions: This study suggests that the role of GAS in pharyngotonsillitis in Sweden is less prominent in August and September than during the rest of the year.
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