Perinatal Streptococcus agalactiae Epidemiology and Surveillance Targets

Clin Microbiol Rev. 2018 Aug 15;31(4):e00049-18. doi: 10.1128/CMR.00049-18. Print 2018 Oct.


Streptococcus agalactiae, or group B streptococcus (GBS), is a major neonatal pathogen. Recent data have elucidated the global prevalence of maternal and neonatal colonization, but gaps still remain in the epidemiology of this species. A number of phenotypic and genotypic classifications can be used to identify the diversity of GBS strains, and some are more discriminatory than others. This review explores the main schemes used for GBS epidemiology and further details the targets for epidemiological surveillance. Current screening practices across the world provide a unique opportunity to gain detailed information on maternal colonizing strains and neonatal disease-causing strains, which is vital for monitoring and therapeutics, if sufficient detail can be extracted. Deciphering which isolates are circulating within specific populations and recording targets within invasive strains are crucial steps in monitoring the implementation of therapeutics, such as vaccines, as well as developing novel therapies against prevalent GBS strains. Having a detailed understanding of global GBS epidemiology will prove invaluable for understanding the pathogenesis of this organism and equipping future prevention strategies for success.

Keywords: Streptococcus agalactiae; clonal complex; epidemiology; group B streptococcus; immunization; perinatal infections; sequence type; serotype; surveillance; vaccine.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Epidemiological Monitoring
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Pregnancy
  • Prevalence
  • Streptococcal Infections / epidemiology*
  • Streptococcal Infections / microbiology*
  • Streptococcus agalactiae / classification
  • Streptococcus agalactiae / physiology