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Volume 44, Number 5, October 2011

Are empiric antibiotics for acute exudative tonsillitis needed in children?

Tsung-Hsueh Hsieh, Po-Yen Chen, Fang-Liang Huang, Jiann-Der Wang, Li-Ching Wang, Heng-Kuei Lin, Hsiao-Chuan Lin, Hsin-Yang Hsieh, Meng-Kung Yu, Chih-Feng Chang, Tzu-Yau Chuang, Chin-Yun Lee

Received: April 29, 2010    Revised: July 20, 2010    Accepted: August 24, 2010   


Corresponding author:

Po-Yen Chen, Department of Pediatrics, Taichung Veterans General Hospital, Taichung, Taiwan


Background and purpose: 

Empiric antibiotics are frequently given for children with acute exudative tonsillitis. A few studies have investigated the causative agent of acute “exudative” tonsillitis in children to evaluate the necessity of antibiotic therapy. This study tried to explore the common causative agent of acute exudative tonsillitis among children.



From April 2009 to March 2010, throat swabs were obtained and cultured for viruses and bacteria from children who visited the pediatric emergency rooms of two medical centers in central Taiwan with acute exudative tonsillitis. Demographic data and microbiological results were analyzed.



A total of 294 children with acute exudative tonsillitis were enrolled during the 1-year prospective study, and 173 (58.8%) of them were younger than 7 years. Group A streptococci were isolated from only three (1.0%) children, and they were all older than 6 years. A total of 143 viruses were isolated from 140 (47.6%) children. Adenovirus (18.7%) and enterovirus (16.3%) were the most common viral etiologies, followed by influenza virus (5.4%), parainfluenza virus (5.1%), herpes simplex virus Type 1 (2.7%), and respiratory syncytial virus (0.3%). Group A streptococcus only contributed to a minimal portion of acute exudative tonsillitis.




Routine or immediate antibiotic therapy for acute exudative tonsillitis in children is not necessary.


Key words:

Acute exudative tonsillitis, Antibiotics, Children