Featured Video: Group B Strep Awareness

Group B Strep Awareness: Group B Strep International.org · Centers for Disease Control · Donate

Source: New Jersey Department of Health

Group B streptococcus (STREP-toe-KAH-kiss) is a type of bacteria that is the most common cause of life-threatening infections in newborns: About 10% to 30% of pregnant women carry the GBS bacteria in their genital tracts, and pregnant women can pass GBS to their newborns shortly before or during delivery. It is the most common causes of sepsis (invasive infection). Two forms of GBS infection occur in newborns:

Early-onset symptoms usually are present within the first 24 hours of life (range: 0 to 6 days) and may include:
– Respiratory distress (gasping and difficulty breathing)
– Shock
– Pneumonia
– Meningitis (swelling of the lining around the brain)

Late-onset conditions usually happen 3 to 4 weeks (range: 7 days to 3 months) of age, and symptoms include:
– Bacteremia (bacteria in the blood)
– Meningitis
To prevent GBS in newborns, pregnant women should be screened for GBS at 35 to 37 weeks of pregnancy. If a health care provider suspects GBS, samples of the patient’s blood and/or spinal fluid will be examined. GBS infection is treated with antibiotics.

GBS can also occur in other age groups of both genders. In adults, GBS affects mostly the elderly and persons with chronic health problems and weak immune systems, causing infections of the urinary tract, blood, lungs, skin, soft tissue, bones, or joints.
To prevent GBS in adults, practice good hand washing habits (rubbing hands together under warm soapy water for at least 15 seconds), or use alcohol-based hand sanitizers.

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