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Meningitis and Group B Streptococci


Topic Overview

Some people carry group B streptococcus in their body but don't get sick. Without knowing it, a woman who has group B streptococci in her birth canal or in her colon can pass the bacteria to her baby during delivery, causing the baby to develop meningitis.

Meningitis caused by these bacteria also occurs in adults older than 60, especially those with long-term conditions such as diabetes, cancer, alcohol dependence, and liver or kidney failure. Group B streptococci cause meningitis in about 15% of the people who get bacterial meningitis in the United States every year.1

New guidelines for prevention of group B streptococci have decreased the incidence of disease; the guidelines include recommending prenatal screening of all pregnant women at 35 to 37 weeks and giving antibiotics during labor to women who have the bacteria.2

Related Information

References

Citations

  1. Roos KL, Tyler KL (2008). Meningitis, encephalitis, brain abscess, and empyema. In AS Fauci et al., eds., Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 17th ed., vol. 2, pp. 2621–2641. New York: McGraw-Hill.

  2. Schrag S, et al. (2002). Prevention of perinatal group B streptococcal disease: Revised guidelines from CDC. MMWR, 51(RR-11): 1–22.

Credits

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerE. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerW. David Colby IV, MSc, MD, FRCPC - Infectious Disease
Last RevisedDecember 8, 2010

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