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Lemierre's syndrome

Lemierre's syndrome
Classification & external resources
DiseasesDB 31108

Lemierre's syndrome (or Lemierre's disease) is a disease usually caused by the bacterium Fusobacterium necrophorum, and occasionally by other members of the genus Fusobacterium (F. nucleatum, F. mortiferum and F. varium etc.) and usually affects young, healthy adults. The infection leads to inflammation of and formation of a thrombus (blood clot) in the internal jugular vein. Many of the resulting symptoms are due to the septic emboli that break off from this initial area and travel through the blood to other areas of the body. Fusobacteria are normal inhabitants of the oropharyngeal flora. This is a very rare disease with only approximately 160 cases in the last 40 years.[citation needed]

Sepsis following from a throat infection was described by Scottmuller in 1918.[1] However it was Andre Lemierre, in 1936, who published a series of 20 cases where throat infections were followed by identified anaerobic septicemia, of whom 18 patients died.[2]



The first symptoms are a sore throat, extreme lethargy, fever, and general body weakness, but after a week or two these symptoms are followed by a spiked fever, rigors, swollen cervical lymph nodes and septicemia (infection of the blood) which can cause complications in other parts of the body including abscesses of lung, brain, and other organs, kidney failure and also effects on liver and joints if untreated.


Lemierre's syndrome is easily treated with antibiotics, but because sore throats are most commonly caused by viruses, for which antibiotic treatment is unnecessary, such treatment is not usual in the first phase of the disease. Lemierre's disease proves that, rarely, antibiotics are sometimes needed for 'sore throats'.[3] If a persistent sore throat, with the symptoms are found, physicians are cautioned to screen for Lemierre's syndrome. Fusobacterium necrophorum is generally highly susceptible to beta-lactam antibiotics, metronidazole, clindamycin and third generation cephalosporins while the other fusobacteria have varying degrees of resistance to beta-lactams and clindamycin.


Lemierre's syndrome is currently a very rare disease, but was quite common in the early 20th century before the discovery of penicillin. The reduced use of routine antibiotics for sore throats by doctors may have increased the risk of this disease, with 19 cases in 1997 and 34 cases in 1999 reported in the UK.[3]. The incidence rate is currently 0.8 cases per million in the general population,[4] leading it to be termed the "forgotten disease".[5] The mortality rate was 90% prior to antibiotic therapy,[2] but is now generally quoted as 15% with proper medical treatment, although one series of cases reported mortality as low as 6.4%.[6]


  • Shah SA, Ghani R (2005). "Lemierre's syndrome: a forgotten complication of oropharyngeal infection". Journal of Ayub Medical College, Abbottabad : JAMC 17 (1): 30-3. PMID 15929523.
  • Cheung WY, Bellas J (2007). "Case report: Lemierre syndrome presenting with fever and pharyngitis". American family physician 75 (7): 979-80. PMID 17429891.
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Lemierre's_syndrome". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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