You may already have Group B step, but not know it. And, if you’re generally healthy, this really isn’t a problem since many others also have this bacteria present.
However, under certain circumstances or conditions, this particular bacterium can become active and cause a wide range of injuries. At the highest risk are pregnant mothers and their babies, followed by seniors and adults with weakened immune systems.
The team at Accredited Home Care tries to keep up with current research into Group B strep and other bacteria to help our clients avoid infection, identify symptoms or seek treatment if it does emerge.
Part of the reason it’s so critical is that expectant mothers are likely to pass the bacteria onto their still-developing child, which could cause them to experience physical and mental problems, lead to premature delivery, or even death. Group B strep is also considered the most frequent cause of sepsis or meningitis in newborns.
There’s also a risk to new mothers since the bacteria can spread still spread even after the child is born. Even if the mother isn’t infectious, the child may still be vulnerable to other infections from other sources.
In adults, active Group B strep is generally slightly less serious but still a matter of concern.
The Mayo Clinic says most of us carry Group B strep in our bladder, throats, bowels, rectum, or other places without any problems. Its full name is Group B streptococcal infection, one of more than a dozen bacteria in our system that are generally harmless.
But if an infection occurs, it can lead to urinary tract infections, blood infections, or pneumonia.
It’s possible to have complications and infections through the body, including skin, heart valves, joints, and membranes. In rare cases, it can cause meningitis in adults.
People with existing medical conditions are more susceptible to problems from Group B strep especially diseases that affect the immune system, including diabetes, cancer, liver disease, or HIV. It’s considered medically invasive, meaning it is easily able to move into areas where there usually aren’t many other active infections or other bacteria, such as the bloodstream.
Even more challenging is that Group B strep is considered contagious, so is able to spread fairly easily to others if appropriate safety precautions aren’t taken. This can include other adults with weak immune systems or health conditions or medical staff.
Along with being more susceptible to infection from Group B strep, seniors over age 65 may experience it more seriously. In fact, a 2005 study showed that elderly adults represent 40 percent of the people diagnosed with group B strep in the U.S., and also contribute to 50 percent of group B strep-related deaths.
This study showed that the number of elderly adults with the condition is similar to the number of women of childbearing age.
It also said that part of the challenge in treating this effectively, especially among seniors, is that they may not recognize what’s happening or be interested in seeking medical attention.
People with existing medical conditions are more susceptible to flare-ups, especially diseases that affect the immune system, including diabetes, cancer, liver disease, or HIV.
Although a vaccination for Group B step is believed to be in the works, it isn’t likely to be ready for a few years, if at all.
However, there are some treatment options available for adults, including antibiotic medication such as penicillin. Many of these aren’t able to target specific bacteria but can weaken overall bacteria through the body and encourage the body’s defense system.
A health care provider who prescribes specific antibiotics to battle various strep infections may also recommend other items to help rebuild the body’s natural “guts” and what’s considered healthier bacteria in the body, including yogurt with active cultures or various vitamins and minerals.
A big key is infection prevention, so similar sanitation and hygiene protocols to COVID should be followed, such as washing hands regularly and using hand sanitizer liberally especially if soap and hot water aren’t easily available.
Homeowners should make sure potentially contaminated surface areas are cleaned regularly. Health care staff should also wear rubber gloves as well as face masks or other safety equipment if needed or required.
In some cases, if an infection from Group B strep moves deeply into soft tissue such as skin and joints, or harder tissue like bone, surgery may be needed if antibiotics might not be as effective.
Although there isn’t a vaccine at this time, there is a substantial amount of research into looking at Group B strep and other bacterial infections, especially due to the potential harm to newborns or fetuses still in the womb.
July is considered International Group B Strep Awareness Month, which is an occasion when people can learn more about the infection and how to prevent it. Medical professionals. There’s also international attention to how to lower the rates of Group B strep.