Group B Strep Infection

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Group B strep facts

  • Group B strep are bacteria found normally in the intestine, vagina, and rectal area in about 25% of all healthy women.
  • Group B strep infections can affect neonates and adults.
  • Most pregnant women who are colonized by the bacteria have no symptoms.
  • The infection can be spread to infants before or during delivery.
  • Signs and symptoms in babies may include fever, breathing problems, lethargy, and poor feeding.
  • Diagnosis of GBS infection is made by isolating the organism from body fluids.
  • The treatment for GBS infection is antibiotics.
  • Complications of GBS infection include sepsis, pneumonia, meningitis, or occasionally death.
  • In pregnant women, routine screening for colonization with GBS is recommended.

What is group B strep?

Group B strep (GBS) is a type of gram-positive streptococcal bacteria also known as Streptococcus agalactiae. This type of bacteria (not to be confused with group A strep which causes "strep throat") is commonly found in the human body, and it usually does not cause any symptoms. However, in certain cases, it can be a dangerous cause of various infections that can affect nonpregnant adults, pregnant women, and their newborn infants. In the United States, approximately 19,800 cases of GBS infection occur annually across all age groups. Group B strep infection is the most common cause of sepsis and meningitis in the United States during a newborn's first week of life.

Group B strep infection can also afflict nonpregnant adults with certain chronic medical conditions, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and cancer. The incidence of GBS infection in adults increases with age, with the highest rate in adults 65 years of age and older (20-25 cases per 100,000). Although the incidence of neonatal group B strep infection has been decreasing, the incidence of group B strep infection in nonpregnant adults has been increasing.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 4/10/2015

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