According to the organization, Group B Strep International, “Group B Streptococcus (GBS), or Streptococcus agalactiae, is a type of bacteria that is naturally found in the digestive and lower reproductive tracts of both men and women. About 1 in 4 pregnant women ‘carry’ or are ‘colonized’ with GBS.” The Mayo Clinic explains that while GBS may be harmless in most adults, it can cause serious illness to newborns, to adults with certain chronic medical conditions such as diabetes and liver disease, and in older adults as well.
The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), states that symptoms of GBS are different for newborns than they are for adults with the disease. Those newborns who contract the disease within their first week of life are said to have “early-onset GBS disease.” Those symptoms include fever, irritability or lethargy, difficulty breathing and feeding, and a bluish color to the skin. GBS symptoms in adults vary, depending on the body part infected. The infection can be in the form of a blood stream infection or sepsis, lung infection, skin and soft tissue infections, or bone and joint infections.
GBS can be treated with antibiotics and some serious complications may require surgery. However, the CDC does report that long term disabilities such as deafness can result from babies contracting GBS. There is also the grim statistic of “2 to 3 in every 50 babies (4% to 6%) who develop GBS disease will die.”
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