Pharyngitis epidemiology and demographics

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]; Associate Editor(s)-in-Chief: Venkata Sivakrishna Kumar Pulivarthi M.B.B.S [2]


Pharyngitis is one of the most common disorders in adults and children, with more than 10 million ambulatories visits per year. Group A streptococcus is by far the most common bacterial cause of acute pharyngitis, accounting for approximately 15 to 30 percent of cases in children and 5 to 10 percent of cases in adults. Peak seasons for a sore throat include late winter and early spring. Transmission of typical viral and Group A streptococcus (GAS) pharyngitis occurs mostly by hand contact with nasal discharge, rather than by oral contact.


Viruses are the most common causes of pharyngitis and account for 25% to 45% of all cases.[1][2] Group A streptococcus presents in up to 37% of all children presenting with a sore throat to an outpatient clinic or emergency room and 24% of those presenting at younger than 5 years.[3][4][5]



  • The highest burden of disease is found in children and young adults, with 50% of cases identified between the ages of 5 to 24 years.[6]
  • The GAS accounts for 5% to 10% of pharyngitis in adults and 15% to 30% in children.[7]
  • Infectious mononucleosis more common in the age group between 15 and 24 years of age.[8]


Men and women are affected equally by pharyngitis.


The prevalence of pharyngitis does not vary by race.


  1. Alcaide ML, Bisno AL (2007) Pharyngitis and epiglottitis. Infect Dis Clin North Am 21 (2):449-69, vii. DOI:10.1016/j.idc.2007.03.001 PMID: 17561078
  2. Bisno AL, Kaplan EL (2006) Strep throat over and over: how frequent? How real? Mayo Clin Proc 81 (9):1153-4. DOI:10.4065/81.9.1153 PMID: 16970210
  3. Cirilli AR (2013) Emergency evaluation and management of the sore throat. Emerg Med Clin North Am 31 (2):501-15. DOI:10.1016/j.emc.2013.01.002 PMID: 23601485
  4. Bennett, John (2015). Mandell, Douglas, and Bennett's principles and practice of infectious diseases. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier/Saunders. ISBN 978-1455748013.
  5. Vincent MT, Celestin N, Hussain AN (2004) Pharyngitis. Am Fam Physician 69 (6):1465-70. PMID: 15053411
  6. Bennett, John (2015). Mandell, Douglas, and Bennett's principles and practice of infectious diseases. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier/Saunders. ISBN 978-1455748013.
  7. Bisno AL, Gerber MA, Gwaltney JM, Kaplan EL, Schwartz RH, Infectious Diseases Society of America (2002) Practice guidelines for the diagnosis and management of group A streptococcal pharyngitis. Infectious Diseases Society of America. Clin Infect Dis 35 (2):113-25. DOI:10.1086/340949 PMID: 12087516
  8. Bisno AL (2001) Acute pharyngitis. N Engl J Med 344 (3):205-11. DOI:10.1056/NEJM200101183440308 PMID: 11172144