What On Earth is Group B Strep, and Should I Be Tested For It?

Everyone’s heard of strep throat – that awful, contagious, over-the-top sore throat that takes a course of antibiotics to cure, and that can go into rheumatic fever or even kidney disease if left untreated. So if you hear someone mention that they tested positive for Group B strep at their OB/GYN’s office, you may be confused. How are a sore throat and a gynecological condition related?

Well, although they share similar names, they are each caused by different bacteria. Group B strep is caused by Streptococcusagalactiae, while strep throat is caused by Streptococcus pyogenes. And they each have very different effects on the body.

Group B strep is naturally found in the intestines and lower genital tract of healthy adults. It can potentially cause problems – but not always. This bacteria can cause urinary tract infections, blood infections, or even pneumonia, but only in rare cases. If you have diabetes or liver disease, your doctor may want to test you for this bacteria. For the most part, however, it is harmless, and most people don’t even know they have Group B strep. It’s not sexually transmitted, nor is it contagious to other adults. So under normal circumstances, there is really no reason for most people to be tested for this bacteria.

The only time that most people are ever consistently tested for Group B strep is when they are pregnant, because this bacteria always poses a risk to babies. During a vaginal delivery, if Group B strep bacteria is present in the vagina, the baby will be exposed to it, and may become infected. Symptoms of Group B strep disease in an infant include fever, difficulty feeding, lethargy, and even difficulty breathing. In order to treat a baby with this disease, antibiotics are administered via an IV. The best course to take, however, is prevention, which is why pregnant women are tested. By giving the mother antibiotics before or during labor, the baby can be shielded from the bacteria.

So should you be tested for Group B strep?

If you are pregnant, definitely.

If you are a senior, or have other existing health conditions, then you should talk to your OB/GYN about testing. He or she might just want to check. Be sure to tell your doctor about any unusual symptoms you may be experiencing.

If you are healthy and not pregnant, then there is really no need for you to be tested for Group B strep.

If you would like to talk to an OB/GYN about Group B strep testing, or any other gynecological health concern, and you live in the East Texas area, give one of our offices a call today. With locations in Longview, Tyler, and Henderson, there is sure to be one close to you. Make an appointment to come in and speak with one of our physicians about any symptoms you may be experiencing, and any concerns you may have.  And of course, if you’re pregnant, contact us as soon as possible to get your prenatal care underway. We’ll help you make sure that you have the healthiest pregnancy possible, and that your little one comes into the world strong and healthy, too!

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