5 Signs of a Group B Strep Infection

May 7th 2016

Timely diagnosis of a group B strep infection is essential for prompt and adequate care. This is especially true for women who are pregnant, children under 2, adults over the age of 65 and individuals with underlying medical conditions.

Fever

A fever is the most obvious sign of a group B strep infection, but it may also result from several other conditions. The group B strep bacteria may infect various parts of the body, including the lungs, urinary tract, skin and joints. The bacteria may also enter the bloodstream. All of these infections typically cause a fever of at least 101 degrees Fahrenheit.

Painful, Frequent Urination

Adults with existing medical conditions or weakened immune systems, those over the age of 65, newborn babies and children under 2 are at the most risk for group B strep infections. Urinary tract infections are common complications associated with group B strep. Individuals who experience pain or burning when they urinate, along with a frequent, urgent need to urinate should see a doctor for a professional diagnosis.

Isolated Swelling or Redness

In some cases, the bacteria attacks bones, joints or soft tissue, such as the skin. These infections typically produce pain, inflammation and tenderness around the affected area, accompanied by a fever and chills. Bone, joint or tissue infections caused by group B strep often cause a general feeling of being unwell and can progress to more serious complications if left untreated.

Shortness of Breath

When group B strep bacteria spreads to the lungs, it usually results in pneumonia and requires prompt medical treatment. Mild cases of pneumonia are similar to a common cold but last longer. High-risk individuals may develop a persistent cough that causes chest pain or breathing difficulties, a fever over 102 F, or prolonged episodes of vomiting or diarrhea. These symptoms require prompt medical attention for proper diagnosis and prompt treatment.

Rapid Heart Rate

A bloodstream infection is the most serious complication associated with group B strep and could lead to septic shock without timely treatment. The first signs of sepsis include a heart rate above 90 beats per minute, rapid breathing and a temperature of at least 101 F. Some individuals may experience a drop in body temperature. If left untreated, sepsis may lead to organ failure and death.

Diagnosis and Treatment

The group B strep bacteria must be isolated for a proper diagnosis. Doctors use a laboratory culture-growth test to identify the infection, and the results are usually available in two to three days. Patients with additional complications may undergo other tests and procedures to determine the best course of treatment. Traditional antibiotics are the most common option.

Conclusion

Many healthy adults carry group B strep bacteria in their bodies at some point in their lives. It may occur briefly in part of the gastrointestinal tract, or it may reside there permanently. In most cases, group B strep bacteria does not cause a serious infection. When complications do arise, the outcome can be fatal without proper medical intervention.

Sources

MayoClinic.org "Group B strep disease" http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/group-b-strep/basics/definition/con-20033853
MedicineNet.com "Group B strep infection" http://www.medicinenet.com/group_b_strep/article.htm
CDC.gov "Group B strep infection in adults" http://www.cdc.gov/groupbstrep/about/adults.html

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