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Causes of Group B Strep

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What is Group B Strep?

Group B strep are bacteria that can colonize in the vagina, rectal, and intestinal area of healthy adults and pregnant women. Statistically, about 25% of all healthy adults will at one time have a GBS infection.

While pregnant women do not often show symptoms of a GBS infection, there is a risk that they can transmit the infection to their newborn baby. Once transmitted, some newborns may develop complication which can cause pneumonia, meningitis, and even sepsis, so infants who are at risk need to be monitored. The best way to prevent this is through early detection in the mother and administration of antibiotics to treat it.

Group B Strep infections can also occur in nonpregnant adults who suffer from chronic conditions such as cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes, or cancer. Typically those over 65 are at higher risk, but the incident rates of GBS infection in nonpregnant adults has been steadily increasing throughout the years.

Causes of Group B Strep

Healthy people can carry Group B Strep in their body at any time, it can also come and go or can stay permanently.

GBS can be found in some pregnant women and if not treated can pass to their newborns. When newborns contract Group B Strep infection in the first week of life it is called early onset. For babies who are 1 to 3 weeks of age when they develop the disease, it is termed late-onset.

How Can Group B Strep be Transmitted?

Group B Strep is transmitted by a pregnant mother to their babies during a vaginal birth. Typically mothers who test positive will be given antibiotics during delivery to reduce the risk of transmission. This will occur in about 50% of mothers who have an active infection during birth.

Out of this 50%, only about 100 to 200 of these babies born will develop a GBS infection requiring treatment.

Who’s at Higher Risk for Group B Strep?

When it comes to having Group B Strep, the incident rates are higher among African Americans than Caucasians. While there are not many statistical differences with a mother becoming a GBS carrier, there are some instances where there is a higher risk of transmission to the infant, including:

  • Early onset of labor
  • Fever during labor and delivery
  • An active urinary tract infection
  • Premature rupture of the membranes
  • Previous Group B Strep infection
  • Positive GBS culture after 35 weeks or pregnancy

Symptoms of GBS Infection

When an active Group B Strep infection is present, there can be some symptoms that can range from mild to severe. Some of the symptoms to watch out for include.

In Newborns

  • Fever
  • Seizures
  • Bluish color
  • limpness
  • Stiffness
  • Breath complications
  • Diarrhea
  • Fussiness
  • Problems with heart rate and blood pressure
  • Problems feeding

In Adults

  • Skin infections
  • Sepsis
  • Lung infection
  • Urinary tract infection
  • Meningitis
  • Joint infections

Treatment of GBS

While the most common form of treatment is to treat the mother with antibiotics during labor to prevent the transmission, once contracted a GBS infection is typically treated with IV antibiotics and sometimes a surgical procedure if a bone or joint infection is present.

While GBS infections can result in severe complications, they are often preventable in newborns with routine maternal screening which makes prenatal care essential to protecting your newborn against such infections.

 

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Significance of International Group B Strep Awareness Month

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July the Awareness Month for Strep B

July is the awareness month that helps educate expecting moms and individuals about Strep B. Strep B stands for Streptococcus a dangerous bacterium that can cause illness in newborns and individuals with weak and even strong immune systems.

Most of the time there are no symptoms presents when a person is infected with the bacterial infection, which is why it is essential for expecting moms to be screened for it before they give birth. If the infection is not caught before the newborn arrives and it is present, the infection can pass right onto the newborn during delivery. If a newborn ends up catching the illness there is potential for it to become serious and even fatal.

Why is Strep B so dangerous?

Strep B is so dangerous because it can turn into meningitis, sepsis and pneumonia without proper diagnoses and treatment. People with strong immune systems can typically survive and fight off these types of infections, but newborn babies during the first weeks of life tend to struggle. This is due to their weakened immune systems, and why so many babies who contract the Strep B illness pass away. Other health problems that can arise from suffering from a Strep B infection are hearing loss, and mental and physical disabilities.

How is Strep B tested?

Expecting moms and individuals are tested for Strep B through a genital swab test. Sometimes testing can be done with a simple urine or blood test. Pregnant women get this test done by their OBGYN or midwife at 37 weeks of pregnancy. Those who suspect they may have it can ask their family doctor to test for the infection.

With that said, the only true way an individual can know for themselves that they could be potentially infected with the bacterium is by experiencing symptoms. Without symptoms, individuals don’t usually suspect any can of infection until it becomes so serious staying in the hospital is essential for intense treatment to help rid the infection from the body.

What are some of the symptoms of the infection?

  • Infection setting into an area of skin
  • Painful urination with a UTI
  • Constant fever with chills
  • Lethargy
  • Skin rashes or infections
  • Vaginal discharge and discomforts
  • Inflammation in the lungs or joints of the body
  • Irritability or moodiness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Headaches and dizziness if the infection spreads to the brain

Where does the Strep B bacterium live within the body?

Strep B bacterium is found in the mouth, throat, genital area, rectum and sometimes even bloodstream of the body. It is passed through bodily fluid contact, or simply encountering the bacteria hanging out on an individual’s skin. If an individual does become infected with Strep B, thankfully there are treatments that work effectively with curing the illness.

What are the antibiotics for most useful for treating the infection?

The antibiotics most commonly used for treating the Strep B infection are ampicillin, penicillin, cefazolin and clindamycin. These medications are provided orally, but with serious infection they are given through IV in the hospital. You can only get these medications through prescriptions from doctors.

End Thoughts for the Significance of Strep B Awareness Month?

The best way to save lives from Strep B is by becoming educated and educating others about the infection. July’s awareness month is the perfect opportunity to get the word out there to help promote proper screening for it in individuals of all ages. After all, everyone deserves to know about potentially life threatening infections that are preventable through proper screening and testing and treatable with simple antibiotics.

 

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Understanding Tuberculosis

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Image is from CDC

Tuberculosis, TB, is an airborne bacterial infection. While other organs and tissues may be involved, it normally affects the lungs first.

What You Need To Know

While most people who have TB are not contagious, the disease is spread through the air when an infected person sneezes, coughs, laughs, sings, or talks. If you are nearby and breath in those germs, there is a chance that you can become infected.

There is a difference between having active TB disease and being infected, known as latent TB. Latent TB is diagnosed when you have the TB germs in your body, but your immune system is strong enough to keep you from getting sick, and you are not contagious.

However, if you are diagnosed with active TB disease, you will have symptoms and you will be contagious. Therefore, it is critical to see a doctor right away.

Unfortunately, there are some forms of TB that are not eliminated with the usual medications prescribed. That means the TB germs in your body are resistant to them. These types of TB are classified as MDR TB and XDR TB.

MDR TB (multi-drug resistant) is resistant to the standard medication regime for active TB and is more serious. XDR TB is resistant to both standard and secondary drugs for treatment and any treatment rendered can be longer, expensive and more difficult. These forms of TB occur when medication is mismanaged or misused. For example:

  • If you do not complete the full course of treatment
  • If your doctor prescribes the wrong treatment, dose, or duration.
  • If medication is not available
  • If medication is of poor quality

It is more common in people who:

  • Do not take their medication regularly
  • Do not take medications for the full duration of treatment
  • Contract it a second time
  • Come from places where drug-resistant TB is more common
  • Have been around someone who has it

The good news is it is not easy to contract TB. You usually have to be close to someone infected for a long time. This is why it is often spread between family members, coworkers, and close friends.

What TB Does To Your Body

If you have a weakened immune system, you are at greater risk for developing TB. Some examples of conditions, treatments, and ages that cause weakened immunity are:

  • HIV/AIDS
  • Leukemia
  • Viral Hepatitis
  • Multiple Myeloma
  • Getting Chemotherapy
  • Elderly
  • Children under the age of 5

If you any of the above apply, the bacteria associated with TB is likely to settle in your lungs and start growing right away, because your immune system isn’t strong enough to fight it off. The disease will develop quickly, within days or weeks. If you are healthy and contract TB, it may take months, or even years to develop.

While TB attacks the lungs, it can also invade other parts of the body, such as:

  • Spine
  • Brain
  • Kidneys
  • Bones
  • Lymph Nodes
  • Skin

This is because the bacteria can move from the lungs through the blood and lymphatic systems. Symptoms of active disease include:

  • Cough
  • Weight Loss
  • Night Sweats
  • Fever
  • Chills

If other parts of the body are infected, symptoms specific to that area will occur. For example, if it has spread to your bones, you will have bone pain.

Despite what many people think, TB is not a disease of the past. About one third of the world’s population are infected. That is almost 2.5 billion people. Of those people 9.6 million have active TB. It is curable, however. Therefore it is important to recognize the symptoms, see a doctor right away, and follow the treatment ordered.

 

 

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Understanding the Swine Flu

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Image is from Flowing Data

Obtaining A Diagnosis

The only way to accurately diagnose swine flu is through a flu test. This is because the symptoms of swine flu look exactly the same as those found in conventional strains of influenza. Even differences of severity aren’t always indicators of one strain or another. While it is possible to see increased symptomatic characteristics stemming from swine flu, it’s just as possible to acquire this strain and feel as though you’ve contracted a regular bout of the flu. How you are affected will depend largely upon your personal constitution.

The extremely young and extremely old, like with conventional strains of the flu, will be at increased risk; likely experiencing more severe symptoms. This is because older and younger populations have immune systems which aren’t as strong as those in the prime of life. That said, if you live an unhealthy lifestyle replete with regular contact to diverse people groups, lack of exercise, and a ubiquity of vice (like smoking and drinking), you’re at an increased risk of contracting more severe influenza strains.

A Distinct History

There are actually quite a few different kinds of swine flu, including:

  • H1N1
  • H1N2
  • H2N1
  • H3N1
  • H3N2
  • H2N3

Primarily, the strain commonly referred to as “Swine Flu” is the H1N1 virus. This is that which caused a pandemic which quickly became global seven years ago, in 2009. Since then, this strain of flu has become seasonal in humans, though it still regularly circulates in swine populations. Thankfully, if you’re planning on eating pork, so long as any pork products you consume have been properly prepared, you won’t get the virus. Proper preparation includes cooking; so if you like your bacon soft and rubbery, you might have to give that up to avoid swine flu.

Avoiding Swine Flu

While properly prepared pork will not get you sick, it’s very possible to acquire the virus through poorly prepared pork products. If you can tone down your pork intake during flu season, it’s a good idea; even though you likely won’t catch the flu this way. It’s more likely to get transmitted by a sneeze, a cough, a loud phlegmy laugh, or contacting a door handle/table/hand-rail that’s been touched by an infected individual. Regular hygiene practices go a long way toward preventing influenza. That means washing your hands when you’ve come into contact with areas that may have been compromised, eating a diet high in non-processed foods that include fruits and vegetables, regularly exercising, and retaining a high level of fluids.

Additional Preventative Measures

Getting a swine flu vaccine can definitely help reduce your risk of contracting this specific strain of the flu. But to get that vaccine, you should be advised that peak health is to be recommended. A vaccine initiates an immune system response which bears some characteristics of the sickness itself. This is because an inert (or weakened) antigen is injected into the body, giving the immune system a chance to deal with it and prepare for a future incursion of the same.

Times Of Maximum Risk

Flu season conventionally begins toward the end of September, though it can begin as early as late August. It usually lasts through early spring. Conventionally, you’ll find that influenza season picks up at the end of Summer/the middle of Autumn. Several things which contribute are regular vacation travels, the new school year, and holidays like Halloween and Thanksgiving where disparate people groups regularly mingle. For you and your family, retaining good eating and fitness habits, as well as a proper inoculation regimen, are great ways to combat this increasingly prominent strain of the influenza virus.

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