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Group B Strep Disease (Streptococcus Agalactiae)


Disease: Group B Strep Disease (Streptococcus Agalactiae) Group B Strep Disease (Streptococcus Agalactiae)
Category: Infectious diseases
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Disease Definition:

A common bacterium called group B streptococcus (strep) is usually carried in people's lower genital tract or in their intestines. Group B strep could cause serious illness in newborns called group B strep disease despite the fact that it is harmless in adults.


In adults with certain chronic medical conditions such as diabetes or liver disease, group B strep could cause some dangerous infections. Older adults are also at an increased risk of illness due to group B strep.


A person doesn't have to do anything about group B strep if they're a healthy adult. In case a woman is pregnant, she should get a screening test during her third trimester. In case she does have group B strep, her baby could be protected with antibiotic treatment.

Work Group:

Prepared by: Scientific Section

Symptoms, Causes



Most adults simply carry group B strep in their bowel, vagina, rectum, throat or bladder without having any signs or symptoms.
Sometimes, a urinary tract infection or some other more serious infections such as pneumonia or blood infections (bacteremia) could be caused by group B strep.



Usually, babies that are born to women carrying group B strep are healthy; however, the few who are infected by group B strep during labor could become critically ill.


In infants, there are two forms of illness caused by group B strep, they are:


Early-onset group B strep disease:

In infants, this type is the most common and serious one. Within 12 hours after birth, a baby with early-onset group B strep disease becomes sick. Some of the signs and symptoms of this disease may include:


  • Lethargy
  • Fever
  • Difficulty feeding


Late-onset group B strep disease:

This type usually develops within a week to a few months after birth. Some of the signs and symptoms of this type may include:


  • Lethargy
  • Fever
  • Difficulty feeding
  • Seizures
  • Upper respiratory infection


A person should immediately contact a doctor in case they experience any signs or symptoms of group B infection, especially if they have a chronic medical condition, are older than 65 or if they're pregnant.


Parents should also talk to their baby's doctor immediately in case they notice that the infant has any of the signs and symptoms of this disease.


As mentioned before, there are many healthy people who carry the group B strep bacteria in their bodies. These bacteria do not spread through food or water, and they are not sexually transmitted. Someone may either always carry group B strep bacteria in their body, or they may carry the bacteria only for a short period of time.


A more serious infection could be caused by group B strep especially in older adults and those with chronic health conditions. However, it is still not known why this infection occurs in some people and not in others.


During a vaginal delivery, in case the baby is exposed to or swallows fluids that contain group B strep, he/she could become infected with this bacterium.




These are some of the complications that group B strep can cause if a woman is pregnant:


  • Sepsis, which is infection of the bloodstream
  • Urinary tract infection
  • Endometritis, which is the inflammation and infection of the membrane lining the uterus.
  • Chorioamnionitis, which is infection of the placenta and amniotic fluid.


These are some of the complications that group B strep could cause if the person is an older adult or has a chronic health condition:


  • Bone and joint infections
  • Cellulitis, which is infection of the skin
  • Urinary tract infection
  • Meningitis, which is inflammation of the membranes and fluid that surround the brain and spinal cord
  • Pneumonia, which is inflammation of the lungs
  • Sepsis, which is inflammation of the bloodstream
  • Endocarditis, which is infection of the heart valves



These are some of the life-threatening infections that group B strep could cause in infants:


  • Bacteremia, infection in the bloodstream
  • Pneumonia, inflammation of the lungs
  • Meningitis, inflammation of the membranes and fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord.



Group B strep infection in adults is effectively treated with antibiotics. The location and extent of the infection, in addition to the person's specific circumstances is what the choice of antibiotic will depend on. In case a woman develops complications due to group B strep and she's pregnant, she will be given oral antibiotics that are safe to take during pregnancy, such as cephalexin or penicillin G.



In order to destroy the group B strep bacteria in babies, they will be given intravenous antibiotics. However, in some cases, depending on the baby's condition, he/she may also need oxygen, IV fluids, or other medications.


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