Group B Strep Infection

  • Medical Author:
    Steven Doerr, MD

    Steven Doerr, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Emergency Medicine Physician. Dr. Doerr received his undergraduate degree in Spanish from the University of Colorado at Boulder. He graduated with his Medical Degree from the University Of Colorado Health Sciences Center in Denver, Colorado in 1998 and completed his residency training in Emergency Medicine from Denver Health Medical Center in Denver, Colorado in 2002, where he also served as Chief Resident.

  • Medical Editor: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

What are group B strep infection symptoms and signs?

In newborns with early onset GBS infection, the signs and symptoms usually develop within the first 24 hours of life. Those babies who develop late-onset GBS infection are often healthy and thriving, with the signs and symptoms of the disease developing after the first week of life. Signs and symptoms that may be observed with GBS infection in babies include

Adults who develop invasive GBS infection may develop

  • bloodstream infection (sepsis),
  • skin and soft-tissue infection,
  • bone and joint infection,
  • lung infection (pneumonia),
  • urinary tract infection, and
  • rarely, an infection of the fluid and lining tissues surrounding the brain (meningitis).

The exact source of the infection in nonpregnant adults is often not determined.

How is group B strep infection diagnosed?

In newborns and in adults, isolation of the GBS bacteria is necessary for a definitive diagnosis. Laboratory studies that isolate the organism from certain body fluids, such as blood, cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), and urine help establish the diagnosis. For screening of pregnant women, a swab of the vaginal and rectal area is obtained to screen for GBS infection at 35-37 weeks' gestation. Results of these tests can take a few days. A lumbar puncture (spinal tap) may need to be performed when meningitis is suspected. Imaging studies such as a chest X-ray may be ordered to evaluate whether pneumonia is present.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 4/29/2016

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