What Should You Know About Group B Strep Infections?
Group B strep is not widely known, but it is very common. It is usually harmless, but if you are pregnant or suffer from immune system deficiencies, talk to your doctor about proactive treatment.
What Is Group B?
The most commonly known type of Streptococcus infection is Group A, which includes the bacteria that causes strep throat. This is a highly communicable and common illness that affects many people at some point in their lives.
Group B infections tend to lie dormant. In severe cases, they can cause kidney or bladder infections. However, many people are unaware they have this infection at all. Group B strep infections are more commonly diagnosed in women and sometimes only found in pregnant women who have never had symptoms of infection. It can be passed to newborns during birth, so some doctors routinely screen pregnant women for it.
Group B strep infections also pose a risk to people with underlying health conditions that harm normal immune system function. This includes HIV, diabetes and elderly people.
Who Is At Risk?
Most healthy young adults are safe from immediate symptoms of group B strep infections. However, the transmission process is unknown, so there is no reliable way to protect yourself as of 2015. This disease is very common and generally nothing to worry about; approximately 25 percent of women carry strep B bacteria at detectable rates.
How Is It Treated?
The treatment for group B strep infections varies significantly. In most cases in adults, no treatment is necessary. Pregnant women may want to undergo a blood test, which can usually detect the disease. If they have it, they need to take antibiotics during labor to prevent transmission to the newborn child. Earlier treatment is often ineffective because if even a few bacteria survive, they quickly regrow.
Healthy, nonpregnant adults with strep B infection generally do not require treatment. The infection is linked with an increased susceptibility to urinary tract infections, so you may need to take some preparations and treat those. People with compromised immune systems should discuss possible treatments with their doctors. Strep B infection has been linked to many systemic infections in people with HIV and other immune system deficiencies, so it is important to be proactive.
Most dangerous group B strep infections are easily treated with antibiotics. Penicillin is generally the preferred drug, but for those who cannot take it, amoxicillin or other common antibiotics are used. Some severe infections may require surgical intervention, but those are rare.
Streptococcus bacteria come in many forms, and they can cause many negative effects for people infected with them. They are classified into several groups depending on who they tend to infect and sicken. Group B is one of the lesser-known groups, but it can affect you or a loved one.