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Group B Strep Symptoms, Treatment, and Prevention

Group B Strep Symptoms, Treatment, and Prevention

More than 1,000 types of bacteria live inside the human body. Some of these bacteria can be helpful, but others have the potential to cause disease, such as group B strep. What are the group B strep symptoms to watch out for, and what steps can you tape to avoid being infected?

What is Group B Strep?

Group B strep is a bacteria that’s commonly found in our gastrointestinal, and lower genital tract. For the most part, group B strep doesn’t really pose a significant threat to healthy people1. People rarely get sick or even experience any group B strep symptoms, and most aren’t even aware they have it in their bodies.

However, this bacteria can potentially cause serious illness among newborn babies since their immune systems aren’t fully developed yet. Persons with compromised immune systems such as those undergoing chemotherapy or radiotherapy, and persons with HIV or AIDS are also at risk. Elderly folks with weak immune systems can also be infected with this bacteria.

Group B strep can cause the following types of infections2:

If the infection is untreated or it starts to spread throughout the body, it can eventually cause death.

Group B Strep Symptoms

Group B strep symptoms can vary depending on which part of the body has been infected, as well as whether it’s a baby or an adult who is sick. Here are some of the symptoms to be aware of3:

In babies:

  • Irritability
  • Difficulty feeding, or lack of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Jaundice
  • Fever
  • Difficulty breathing

In babies, infection can happen in as short as 6 hours after birth. Though, it’s also possible for babies to be infected weeks or months after birth. So it’s important for parents to observe their babies and take note if they are experiencing any of the symptoms above.

In adults:

  • Urinary tract infections
  • Fever and chills
  • Weakness or lethargy
  • Jaundice
  • Pneumonia
  • Difficulty breathing

Adults who experience the following symptoms, especially those who are 65 or older or immunocompromised should immediately go to the doctor.

One important thing about this bacteria is that mothers should get tested for it before they give birth. This is because even if they don’t show any outward group B stress symptoms, it’s possible that when she gives birth, she could potentially pass on the infection to her baby. So it is very important for mothers to get tested for group B strep4.

Treatment

The usual form of treatment for group B strep would be antibiotics which can include penicillin and ampicillin5. Further treatment would depend on what specific type of infection a person has. For example, if a person’s bones have been infected, doctors might consider surgery as one option.

Pregnant women who test positive for group B strep might also be given antibiotics intravenously. This should help lower the risk that the baby will be infected when the mother gives birth.

Prevention

It can be difficult to outright prevent group B strep infections. However, for pregnant mothers, getting tested before giving birth is the best way to prevent your baby from being infected. Early detection of this bacteria can help doctors create a plan to treat it before you give birth.

For the immunocompromised and the elderly, staying healthy and early detection of group B strep can help immensely. The sooner that the infection can be detected, the better the outcome would be. Closely monitor your health with your team of health professionals. So it is important to be informed about what group B strep symptoms to watch out for.

Learn more about other Infectious Diseases here.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Sources
  1. Group B strep disease – Symptoms and causes – Mayo Clinic, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/group-b-strep/symptoms-causes/syc-20351729, Accessed September 16, 2021
  2. Group B Strep: Causes and Types of Infections | CDC, https://www.cdc.gov/groupbstrep/about/infection.html, Accessed September 16, 2021
  3. Group B strep – NHS, https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/group-b-strep/, Accessed September 16, 2021
  4. Group B Strep and Pregnancy | ACOG, https://www.acog.org/womens-health/faqs/group-b-strep-and-pregnancy, Accessed September 16, 2021
  5. Group B Streptococcus And Pregnancy – StatPearls – NCBI Bookshelf, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK482443/, Accessed September 16, 2021
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Written by Jan Alwyn Batara Updated Sep 20
Fact Checked by Kristel Dacumos-Lagorza