Group B Strep Disease


Group B streptococcus (GBS) is a commonly found bacterium typically residing in the intestines or lower genital tract. While it’s usually harmless in healthy adults, it can pose serious risks, especially to newborns, causing a condition known as group B strep disease.

In individuals with certain chronic health conditions like diabetes or liver disease, GBS can lead to severe infections. Additionally, older adults are more susceptible to illness from GBS.

For healthy adults, no specific action is necessary regarding GBS. However, pregnant individuals should undergo screening for GBS during their third trimester. If GBS is detected, receiving antibiotics during labor can help protect the newborn from infection.



Symptoms include fever, low body temperature, difficulty feeding, sluggishness, limpness, weak muscle tone, breathing issues, irritability, jitteriness, seizures, rash, and jaundice.

In infants, GBS-related illness can manifest within six hours of birth (early onset) or emerge weeks or months later (late onset). While most babies born to mothers carrying group B strep remain healthy, a small percentage may become critically ill if infected during labor.


Group B streptococcus although common in adults, can lead to various infections in some cases. Symptoms of infections caused by group B strep include:

  • Bone or joint infections: Which may cause fever, chills, swelling, pain, and stiffness or reduced joint mobility.
  • Urinary tract infections: Marked by a persistent urge to urinate, burning sensation during urination, frequent small urination, and discolored urine.
  • Skin or soft-tissue infections: Which may exhibit swelling, warmth, redness, pain, and lesions with pus.
  • Blood infections: Which may manifest with symptoms such as fever, chills, and confusion.
  • Pneumonia: Which can result in fever, chills, cough, shortness of breath, and chest pain

If any of the signs and symptoms persist, it is advisable to consult a healthcare provider for proper diagnosis and treatment. In the case of infants displaying these signs, seeking urgent medical attention is crucial.

Pregnant individuals, those with chronic medical conditions, or individuals aged over 65 who experience signs or symptoms of group B strep infection should promptly consult their healthcare provider.


Group B strep transmission to infants typically occurs during vaginal delivery when the baby encounters or ingests fluids containing the bacteria. However, the exact mode of transmission to individuals other than newborns is still unclear. Group B strep is not sexually transmitted, nor does it spread through food or water. It’s commonly found in the bodies of healthy individuals, either temporarily or persistently.

Risk factors

Increased risk factors for group B strep disease in infants include:

  • Maternal carriage of group B strep
  • Premature birth (before 37 weeks gestation)
  • Prolonged rupture of membranes (water breaking 18 hours or more before delivery)
  • Maternal chorioamnionitis (infection of placental tissues and amniotic fluid)
  • Maternal urinary tract infection during pregnancy
  • Maternal fever exceeding 100.4°F (38°C) during labor
  • Previous delivery of an infant with group B strep disease

In adults aged 65 and older, as well as those with compromised immune systems or serious underlying conditions such as diabetes, HIV infection, liver disease, heart disease, or cancer, the risk of group B strep infection is increased.