Group B streptococcus is a common bacterium that usually resides in the intestinal tract or lower genital tract. In healthy adults, the bacterium is usually harmless. However, in newborns, it can lead to the serious disease group B streptococcal disease.
In adults with certain chronic diseases, such as diabetes or liver disease, group B streptococcus can also cause dangerous infections. Older adults are also at increased risk of developing group B strep throat.
If you are a healthy adult, you do not need any testing for group B strep. If you are pregnant, you should have a screening test for group B strep in late pregnancy. If you are already infected with group B strep, you should be treated with antibiotics at delivery to protect your fetus.
Infants and children
Most babies born to women who carry group B strep are healthy. However, a small number of babies infected with group B streptococcus during delivery may be critically ill.
In infants and children, illness caused by group B streptococcus may appear within six hours of birth (early onset) or within weeks or months of birth (late onset).
Signs and symptoms may include
² Difficulty eating
² Dullness and low energy (lethargy)
² Difficulty breathing
² Easy crying
Many adults carry group B streptococcus in their bodies, commonly in the intestines, vagina, rectum, bladder or throat, without any signs or symptoms.
However, in some cases, group B strep can cause urinary tract infections or more serious infections such as bloodstream infections (bacteremia) or infectious pneumonia.
When to see a doctor
Contact your doctor immediately if you have signs or symptoms of a group B strep infection, especially if you are pregnant, have a chronic illness, or are 65 years or older.
If you notice signs or symptoms of group B strep in your baby, seek medical attention immediately.