Serum fluorescent streptococcal antibody tests were carried out on 71 patients with clinically suspected infective endocarditis, and a final diagnosis of endocarditis was obtained in 46 patients. A serological diagnosis of streptococcal endocarditis was obtained in 10 patients who had persistently negative blood cultures, as fluorescent streptococcal antibody titres equal to or greater than 400 were detected against at least one of four strains of streptococci used as heterologous antigens. There were no false positive fluorescent antibody results with heterologous antigens during tests on 29 patients who had either non-streptococcal endocarditis, a final diagnosis other than endocarditis, or streptococcal sepsis not associated with endocarditis. A negative result with the heterologous antibody test could not, however, exclude a diagnosis of streptococcal endocarditis as six of 11 patients with endocarditis due to Streptococcus viridans or Str bovis confirmed on blood culture had serum fluorescent antibody titres less than 400 against all the heterologous streptococcal antigens tested. Homologous fluorescent streptococcal antibody titres equal to or greater than 400, using the patient's own blood culture isolate as the antigen, were found in the serum samples of 14 of 15 patients with endocarditis caused by viridans streptococci, three patients with enterococcal endocarditis, two patients with endocarditis caused by Str pneumoniae, and one patient with Str bovis endocarditis. In contrast, all five patients who had clinically insignificant streptococcal bacteraemias had serum fluorescent homologous antibody titres of only 100 or less. These results showed that the homologous serum fluorescent streptococcal antibody test could help to decide the clinical importance of a streptococcus which is initially isolated from only one or two of a number of inoculated blood culture bottles.
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