New survey launched into Group B streptococcus infection in babies

April 2, 2014

Researchers have launched a national study to see how common the potentially fatal bacterial infection Group B streptococcus is in UK and Irish babies.

Group B Streptococcus (GBS) is a that can cause serious infections. It is the most important cause of in and of in the first three months of life.

Experts at St George's, University of London, in collaboration with the British Paediatric Surveillance Unit and Public Health England will coordinate the study across UK and Ireland which will run for a 13-month period from April 1.

While most infected can be treated successfully and will make a full recovery, approximately 10% of babies with GBS disease will die and neurodisability occurs in up to 50% of survivors of GBS meningitis.

Antibiotics given intravenously to the mother during labour may prevent GBS disease in the first week; national guidelines introduced in 2003 and updated in 2012 currently recommend this for women with certain risk factors.

Currently there is no strategy to prevent disease which happens after the first week of life. A vaccine against GBS has been developed and is currently being tested in pregnant women.

The aim of the surveillance study, funded by a grant from the Meningitis Now charity, is to establish the number of cases of GBS in babies aged less than three months of age over a 13 month period.

Comparison with the last national surveillance for GBS, which was 13 years ago, will indicate whether current prevention strategies including the recently updated guidelines have had an impact on the number of cases.

Knowledge of the current situation will also be important for the implementation of a GBS vaccine programme.

Professor Paul Heath, who is leading the study, said: "GBS remains a major health burden. Since our last study 13 years ago around 8,000 babies are likely to have had this infection. Prevention is vital. A promising vaccine is on the horizon which makes this new study even more important."

Clinicians and microbiologists are asked to report cases from 1April 2014 onwards. Clinicians in the UK and Republic of Ireland will be asked to report cases via the BPSU orange card system. Microbiologists and laboratory staff will be requested to notify invasive GBS cases, and submit the isolates, to their national reference laboratory (e.g. PHE).

Clinicians in the Republic of Ireland will also report cases to the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) as invasive GBS is a notifiable disease in Ireland. Clinicians in Northern Ireland will also report cases to the Public Health Agency.

Explore further: More accurate diagnostic test may reduce deaths

Related Stories

More accurate diagnostic test may reduce deaths

June 26, 2012
A more accurate, faster diagnostic test for Group B Streptococcal infection in babies has been reported in the Journal of Medical Microbiology. The new test could allow better treatment and management of the disease and reduce ...

Group B streptococcal meningitis has long-term effects on children's developmental outcomes

June 12, 2012
Parents of infants who survive bacterial meningitis caused by group B Streptococcus might have to live with the effects of the disease on their children long after they're discharged from the hospital.

Researchers say more rapid test for Group B strep successful

March 8, 2013
A more rapid laboratory test for pregnant women to detect potentially deadly Group B strep (GBS) has been successful at identifying GBS colonization in six and a half hours, according to the results of a study from The University ...

Recommended for you

Google searches can be used to track dengue in underdeveloped countries

July 20, 2017
An analytical tool that combines Google search data with government-provided clinical data can quickly and accurately track dengue fever in less-developed countries, according to new research published in PLOS Computational ...

MRSA emerged years before methicillin was even discovered

July 19, 2017
Methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) emerged long before the introduction of the antibiotic methicillin into clinical practice, according to a study published in the open access journal Genome Biology. It was ...

New test distinguishes Zika from similar viral infections

July 18, 2017
A new test is the best-to-date in differentiating Zika virus infections from infections caused by similar viruses. The antibody-based assay, developed by researchers at UC Berkeley and Humabs BioMed, a private biotechnology ...

'Superbugs' study reveals complex picture of E. coli bloodstream infections

July 18, 2017
The first large-scale genetic study of Escherichia coli (E. coli) cultured from patients with bloodstream infections in England showed that drug resistant 'superbugs' are not always out-competing other strains. Research by ...

Ebola virus can persist in monkeys that survived disease, even after symptoms disappear

July 17, 2017
Ebola virus infection can be detected in rhesus monkeys that survive the disease and no longer show symptoms, according to research published by Army scientists in today's online edition of the journal Nature Microbiology. ...

Mountain gorillas have herpes virus similar to that found in humans

July 13, 2017
Scientists from the University of California, Davis, have detected a herpes virus in wild mountain gorillas that is very similar to the Epstein-Barr virus in humans, according to a study published today in the journal Scientific ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.