Group B Strep (cont.)

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What is the treatment for group B strep?

For women who test positive for GBS during pregnancy and for those with certain risk factors for developing or transmitting GBS infection during pregnancy, intravenous antibiotics are recommended at the time of labor. The administration of antibiotics to women before labor who are known to be colonized with GBS is not effective in preventing early onset disease, as it has been found that the GBS bacteria can grow back quickly. Pregnant women who are not aware of their group B strep status should be given antibiotics during labor if they develop preterm labor (less than 37 weeks gestation), if they have membrane rupture for 18 hours or longer, or if they develop fever during labor. Penicillin or ampicillin are the recommended antibiotics. The administration of antibiotics has been shown to significantly decrease GBS early onset infection in newborns; however, it does not prevent late-onset GBS infection. If a pregnant carrier of GBS receives intravenous antibiotics during delivery, her baby has a one in 4,000 chance of developing GBS infection. Without antibiotics, her baby has a one in 200 chance of developing GBS infection.

In neonates and nonpregnant adults who develop invasive GBS infection, intravenous antibiotics are also the mainstay of treatment. There are certain conditions associated with invasive GBS infection that may require surgical intervention, for example surgical debridement in certain patients with soft tissue/skin infections.

What are the complications of group B strep infection?

Invasive infection with GBS in babies may result in sepsis, pneumonia, meningitis, or occasionally death. In some babies who survive, meningitis, deafness, blindness. or developmental disabilities may occur. In the United States, the mortality (death) rate for group B strep infection in babies is about 5%.

In pregnant women, infection with GBS may cause urinary tract infection, infection of the uterus and placenta, as well as preterm delivery, stillbirth, or miscarriage. Mortality rates in these patients are low because they tend to be healthy young or middle-aged individuals.

In nonpregnant adults with chronic medical conditions who develop invasive GBS infection, complications may include pneumonia, urinary tract infection, sepsis, skin and soft-tissue infection, bone and joint infection, and rarely meningitis. This group of patients tends to have higher mortality rates, ranging from 8%-47% depending on the published report.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 4/10/2015

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