Streptococcus agalactiae (group B streptococcus (GBS)) is the leading cause of neonatal sepsis and meningitis in many countries. Intrapartum antibiotic strategies have reduced the incidence of early-onset neonatal GBS in a number of countries but have had no impact on late onset GBS infection (LOD). In low/middle income settings, the disease burden remains uncertain although in several countries of Southern Africa appears comparable to or higher than that of high-income countries. As disease may be rapidly fulminating cases can be missed before appropriate samples are obtained and this may lead to underestimation of the true burden. Given the rapid onset and progression within hours of birth as well as the deficiencies in IAP strategies and absence of a solution for preventing LOD, it is clear that administration of a suitable vaccine in pregnancy could provide a better solution in all settings; it should also be cost effective. The current leading vaccine candidates are CPS-protein conjugate vaccines but protein-based vaccines are also in development and one has recently commenced clinical trials.
Keywords: Conjugate; Group B streptococcus; Pregnancy; Streptococcus agalactiae; Vaccine.
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