Group B Streptococcus (GBS)
Group B Streptococcus (Streptococcus agalactiae) or GBS is a bacterium that colonizes the colon and genital tract of women, and consequently may cause infections in mothers and their infants at the time of delivery. It is the most common cause of sepsis and meningitis among neonates. Group B Streptococcus is also a common cause of skin and soft tissue infections, which may be invasive, in diabetics and the elderly.
Neonatal GBS disease is categorized into early-onset and late-onset disease. Early-onset cases occur at <7 days of age while late-onset cases occur between 7 and 89 days of age.
No vaccine is available for prevention of GBS disease. General prevention measures include maintaining good overall health and avoiding skin breaks, as well as good wound care and hand hygiene.
Intrapartum (during delivery) use of antibiotics is recommended for pregnancies where an elevated risk of GBS disease exists for the infant. Pregnancies where intrapartum antibiotics are recommended include those where the mother has previously delivered a baby with GBS infection, or had GBS in urine, or where a vagino-rectal screening culture (done at 35-37 weeks gestation) reveals the presence of GBS. If no screening culture result is available, antibiotics are recommended for women who develop fever, have premature (before 37 weeks) or prolonged (18 hours) rupture of the membranes.
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