Background: Group B streptococcus (GBS), which asymptomatically colonises the vaginal and rectal areas of women, is the leading cause of septicemia, meningitis and pneumonia in neonates. In Tanzania no studies have been done on GBS colonisation of pregnant women and neonates. This study was conducted in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania to determine the prevalence of GBS colonisation among pregnant women, the neonatal colonisation rate and the antimicrobial susceptibility, thus providing essential information to formulate a policy for treatment and prevention regarding perinatal GBS diseases.
Methods: This cross sectional study involved 300 pregnant women attending antenatal clinic and their newborns delivered at Muhimbili National Hospital (MNH) between October 2008 and March 2009. High vaginal, rectal, nasal, ear and umbilical swabs were cultured on Todd Hewitt Broth and in 5% sheep blood agar followed by identification of isolates using conventional methods and testing for their susceptibility to antimicrobial agents using the Kirby-Bauer method.
Results: GBS colonisation was confirmed in 23% of pregnant women and 8.9% of neonates. A higher proportion of GBS were isolated from the vagina (12.3%) as compared to the rectum (5%). Prolonged duration of labour (>12 hrs) was significantly shown to influence GBS colonisation in neonates P < 0.05. Other risk factors such as prolonged rupture of membrane, intrapartum fever, low birth weight and HIV infection did not correlate with GBS colonisation. All isolates were sensitive to vancomycin and ampicillin. Resistance to clindamycin, erythromycin and penicillin G was found to 17.6%, 13% and 9.4%, respectively.
Conclusion: Our findings seem to suggest that a quarter of pregnant women attending ANC clinic at MNH and approximately 10% of their newborns are colonised with GBS. All isolates were found to be sensitive to vancomycin and ampicillin which seem to be the most effective antibiotics for the time being. However there is a need for continuous antibiotics surveillance of GBS to monitor trend of resistance. The high isolation frequency of GBS among pregnant women suggests routine antenatal screening at 35 to 37 weeks of gestation in order to provide antibiotic prophylaxis to GBS carrier.