Last night’s episode (4 May) of the longstanding soap, saw newborn Reuben with a high temperature of 40 degrees, refusing feeds and being withdrawn – all common signs of late-onset group B Strep meningitis.
Mum, Chloe, due to leave the village, had her plans halted when she became worried for her son. She exclaimed that she knew her son and could tell he was not right. Friend Victoria called the doctors, with Dr Liam arriving not long after. Concerned for Reuben, he rushed them to hospital where tests indicated he had bacterial meningitis, most likely caused by group B Strep bacteria. Antibiotics were promptly administered.
“The storyline mirrors the real stories of late-onset group B Strep that occur almost daily in the UK. Early detection of these infections is essential for early diagnosis and treatment because late-onset group B Strep infections cannot currently be prevented but are usually treatable. We are very happy that this storyline will help raise understanding of group B Strep and the signs of infection in babies to watch out for.”Jane Plumb MBE, Chief Executive at Group B Strep Support.
What is group B Strep?
Group B Streptococcus (Strep B) is a type of bacteria which lives in the intestines, rectum and vagina or around 2-4 in every 10 women in the UK (20-40%). This is often known as carrying or being colonised with GBS.
How does group B Strep affect babies?
If a pregnant woman is carrying group B Strep, there is a small chance her baby will develop a group B Strep infection at or shortly after birth.
There are two types of group B Strep infection – early-onset and late-onset infection.
If a baby develops a GBS infection in the first six days of life, this is known as early-onset group B Strep infection. These infections can often be prevented if a pregnant woman has intravenous antibiotics in labour if she knows she is carrying group B Strep.
Babies can also develop a GBS infection later on, between six days old and three months old. This is known as late-onset group B Strep infection. These infections are not currently preventable, so speedy identification of the signs of these infections is vital for early diagnosis and treatment.