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The Long Shot

What will it take for pharmaceutical companies to create a viable strep vaccine?

HEALTH

@sheridan_kate

COURTESY OF UTHSC

DOES THE WORLD NEED A VACCINE FOR STREP throat? In a rare alignment, the pharmaceutical industry and global health advocates like the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation see such a shot as a low priority. And for the many American families for whom strep is just a routine, if annoying, feature of winter, that perspective may seem correct. But two researchers on opposite sides of the globe disagree, and in light of a recent spike in deaths, rising antibiotic resistance and a litany of other issues caused by this seemingly manageable infection, they may just be right.

The group A streptococcus bacterium, the microbe responsible for strep, causes 616 million cases of sore throat each year worldwide. An untreated infection can lead to scarlet fever, flesh-eating infections and toxic shock syndrome. Streptococcus can also trigger rheumatic fever, a leading cause of heart disease around the world.

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THE ALIEN HUNTER'S GUIDE: TO THE FUTURE We may finally have the tools we need to discover intelligent life on other planets. If only we'd stop making so much noise.