Infectious Disease Epidemiology Program

Airborne and Direct Contact Diseases - Group B Strep

Group B streptococcus (group B strep) is a type of bacteria that causes illness in newborn babies, pregnant women, the elderly, and adults with other illnesses, such as diabetes or liver disease. Group B strep is the most common cause of life-threatening infections in newborns.

Group B strep is the most common cause of sepsis (blood infection) and meningitis (infection of the fluid and lining around the brain) in newborns. Group B strep is a frequent cause of newborn pneumonia and is more common than other, more well-known, newborn problems such as rubella, congenital syphilis, and spina bifida. Good prenatal care and testing during pregnancy can greatly reduce the risk of newborn infection.