- Physicians seldom prescribe antibiotics to patients presenting with a combination of sore throat and feelings of malaise. However, this restrictive regimen may have a downside. Two patients, men aged 23 and 19 years, respectively, with pharyngitis developed a life-threatening syndrome following a Fusobacterium throat infection. They suffered from Lemierre’s syndrome, referred to in recent literature as the ‘forgotten disease’. The second patient recovered uneventfully after prompt intravenous antibiotic treatment. The first, however, succumbed following overwhelming multiple organ failure. A classical case of Lemierre’s syndrome is characterised by bacterial embolisation from a clogged internal jugular vein following a sore throat. Spread of organisms may lead to sepsis and organ failure. The main pathogen is Fusobacterium necrophorum. Early recognition is essential, since prompt antibiotic treatment is usually effective. This syndrome should be suspected until proven otherwise in any patient with signs of pharyngitis, a painful swollen neck and pulmonary symptoms.
Ned Tijdschr Geneeskd. 2006;150:2461-6