The last GBS surveillance study in the UK and Ireland was undertaken in 2000/1. An update is needed to improve our understanding of the current burden of infection and its risk factors. This will help target future strategies to prevent infections. Comprehensive information about the current disease burden is needed to assess the impact of prevention guidelines (guidelines were issued by the Royal College of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists in 2003) as well as provide the baseline for a possible GBS vaccine programme.
Group B Streptococcus (GBS) is the most common cause of serious bacterial infections (e.g. sepsis, pneumonia) in the first week of life and of meningitis in the first three months of life. Approximately 10% of babies with GBS disease will die and neurodisability occurs in up to 50% of survivors of GBS meningitis.
Early onset GBS disease (developing in a babies first 6 days of life) may be prevented by antibiotics given intravenously to the mother during labour; national guidelines introduced in 2003 and updated in 2012 currently recommend this for women with certain risk factors. Late onset disease however is not currently preventable. A vaccine against GBS has been developed and is currently being tested in pregnant women, which may well be available to pregnant women within the next decade or so.
Case Definition: Any case of invasive group B streptococcus (GBS grown from a sterile site) in an infant of less than 90 days of age.
Reporting Instructions: Paediatricians – Please report any baby seen in the last month who meets the case definition in the UK or the Republic of Ireland from April 2014. Microbiologists – Please report GBS cases as normal and submit GBS isolates to the reference laboratory
Duration: 1 April 2014 – 30 April 2015
Funding: The study is funded by a grant from Meningitis Now.
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