What Is Group B Streptococcus?


Quick Answer

Group B streptococcus, or strep, is found in the lower genital tract or intestines. It is a common bacterium that causes no harm to most adults, but in infants can cause an illness called group B strep disease, which can sometimes be quite serious, according to Mayo Clinic. Group B streptococcus can be very dangerous to adults with liver disease, diabetes and other chronic conditions.

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Full Answer

If infants are infected with group B strep, serious illness can occur. This illness, group B strep disease, takes two forms: early and late onset. The symptoms of early onset group B strep disease appear about a week after the baby is born, and include difficulty with feeding, fever and lethargy. Late onset group B strep disease's symptoms appear from 1 week to some months after the baby is born, and include fever, lethargy, feeding difficulty, having trouble breathing and irritability.

Many adults carry the group B streptococcus bacteria in their bodies and show no symptoms but, sometimes, it may cause an infection of the blood or urinary tract. Group B streptococcus can also cause pneumonia in adults. Elderly adults, especially those living in nursing homes, are at higher risk of an infection, in addition to those with chronic conditions.

The main treatment for group B streptococcus infections is antibiotics. In certain cases, especially in the case of infants, other medications, fluids and oxygen may be necessary.

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