Group B Streptococci (GBS) are important causes of neonatal sepsis and meningitis globally. To elucidate the potential benefits of maternal GBS vaccines, data is needed on the epidemiology of maternal GBS rectovaginal colonization, distribution of serotypes, and resistance to intrapartum antibiotic prophylaxis (IAP). We collected rectal and vaginal samples from 305 pregnant women in León, Nicaragua between 35 and 40 weeks gestation. Samples were cultured for GBS and confirmed using latex agglutination. GBS isolates underwent serotyping by quantitative polymerase chain reaction, and antimicrobial susceptibility testing by disk diffusion and microdilution following Clinical Laboratory Standard Institute guidelines. Sixty-three women (20.7%) were colonized with GBS in either the rectum or the vagina. Of 91 GBS isolates collected from positive cultures, most were serotypes II (28.6%), Ia (27.5%), and III (20.9%). Most GBS isolates (52.9%) were resistant to penicillin, the first-line prophylactic antibiotic. Penicillin resistance was highly correlated with resistance to vancomycin, ceftriaxone, and meropenem. The results of our study suggest that one-fifth of pregnant women in the urban area of León, Nicaragua are colonized with GBS and risk transmitting GBS to their offspring during labor. High resistance to commonly available antibiotics in the region suggests that prophylactic maternal GBS vaccination would be an effective alternative to IAP.
Keywords: Nicaragua; antimicrobial resistance; group B Streptococcus; vaccines.