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Purpose. Streptococcus agalactiae, or group B streptococcus (GBS), is a leading neonatal pathogen that causes sepsis, meningitis and pneumonia. Globally, strategies have been implemented to address vertical transmission, and in Western Australia (WA), culture-based screening at 35-37 weeks' gestation is part of routine care and guides antibiotic administration. Previous Australian studies have focused on other regions or included low sample-size representatives; we aimed to describe antenatal GBS colonization in WA.
Methodology. A cohort of 814 pregnant women attending antenatal clinics (2015-2017) self-collected vaginal and rectal swabs at = 22 weeks (n= 814) and >= 33 weeks' (n=567) gestation. These were assessed for GBS presence using culture and PCR, and serotyping was conducted using molecular methods. Lifestyle questionnaires and medical data were collected.
Results. We observed an overall GBS colonization rate of 24%, with 10.6 % of positive participants transiently colonized. Ethnicity (Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and African), maternal age >= 25 years, vitamin use, frequent sexual intercourse (>= 5 times/week) and use of sex toys were associated with GBS colonization. The dominant serotypes identified were Ia (27.9%), III (20.9%), II (16.3%), V (15.8%), Ib (8.4%), VI (5.1%), IV (2.8%), NT (1.9), VIII (0.5%) and IX (0.5%) at visit one, with V (18.9%) preceding serotype II (18.2%) at visit two. Serotype VII was not detected.
Conclusion. This is the first cohort study to assess GBS colonization in Western Australian pregnant women and will be highly beneficial for guiding clinical practice and future therapeutic options, in particular, the selection of suitable vaccine candidates.