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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » EXPERT ADVICE » Ask Scarleteen » Group B strep infection

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Author Topic: Group B strep infection
Member # 45568

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Hey ST,

I came down with a UTI and vaginal infection about a day after I had vaginal and oral sex with my partner. Eventually it led to my urethra swelling to the point of it causing urinary retention. I also had a decently high fever. At that point I went to the doctor and was put on emperic Cipro antibiotic and Difflucan. Four days later the cultures came back positive for a Group B Strep infection. The nurse couldn't tell me why I had such a terrible infection from a normal bacteria (I learned about it as a normal flora of the GU tract in microbiology). She also couldn't tell me what to do about the still ongoing infection or whether there was a risk of sepsis.

Well, I did some internet sleuthing and found out some pretty scary stuff. According to a few reputable sites, a group B strep infection can cause endocarditis, sepsis, and bacterial meningitis. All horribly scary complications. Two sites even said that the infection has a very high mortality rate, even with early treatment. One said that the prognosis was good for people promptly put on antibiotics.

Does anyone here know about this kind of infection in young, healthy, and non-pregnant people? Or just help me sort through some of the information on the web? Unfortunately my doctor doesn't seem to know anything about it and is unwilling to help me find what I need to know.

I'm pretty sure everything will resolve itself without any of those nasty possibilities, but I just want to be informed here.

[ 07-19-2011, 01:39 AM: Message edited by: polyprotic ]

Posts: 97 | From: USA | Registered: Jan 2010  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Scarleteen Volunteer
Member # 1679

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Group B strep is actually pretty common. It's present in something like 15-45% of healthy women (generally in the intestine, vagina, or rectal area). In most cases, it's not a serious problem. The scary stuff you've seen listed as complications are the things that are not the norm. They are the less common occurrences. I've never seen anything to indicate that in healthy adults it has a high mortality rate. (In adults with chronic health conditions it can be more problematic, but that's for folks with already compromised immune systems or other issues.)

Sarah Liz

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Member # 45568

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I'm aware that it's common as a normal human flora. 15-45% of the population is colonized with the bacteria, rather than infected, which there is a big difference. Strep B is, indeed, an opportunistic pathogen, meaning that it is uncommon for healthy people to develop an infection with symptoms, which is the case here.

It's kind of like saying that staph (another opportunistic pathogen) is present in a certain percentage of the healthy population, therefore it's common. But we all know staph can be trouble when they do have the chance to infect an open wound. Again, uncommon but not unheard of and not without danger in healthy people.

My question was regarding when it already has become a big problem, what are the odds that it can go from bad to worse. This is where I can't find information.

Just quoting one of the more bleak sources here:

"infection is extremely rare in healthy individuals and is almost always associated with underlying abnormalities. Among published series, diabetes mellitus and malignancy are consistently the most common underlying diseases associated with infection."

"Primary group B streptococcal bacteremia without an obvious source is a common presentation in adults. While one series suggests that group B streptococcal bacteremia is low-grade and easily controlled with little morbidity, other authors suggest that the clinical presentation may be that of classic sepsis with shock and may carry a high mortality. Sustained bacteremia may indicate endocarditis or an infected catheter. Group B streptococci can cause acute destructive endocarditis, which may require emergency valve replacement.

Urinary tract infections are a common manifestation of group B streptococcal disease and are observed in both pregnant and nonpregnant adults. Other presentations of group B streptococcal infection include pneumonia, skin and soft-tissue infections, septic arthritis, osteomyelitis, meningitis, peritonitis, and endo-ophthalmitis. "

[ 07-20-2011, 01:12 AM: Message edited by: polyprotic ]

Posts: 97 | From: USA | Registered: Jan 2010  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator

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