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meningitis & septicaemia can kill in hours!

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GBS disease in the UK and Ireland: a surveillance and case-control study

  • Researchers:
    Heath PT
  • Start Date:
    01 January 2000
  • Category:
  • Location:
    St George's University of London, London, UK

Group B streptococcal disease (GBSD) is the most common cause of severe, early onset neonatal disease (meningitis, septicaemia and pneumonia). The incidence, risk factors, morbidity, mortality and economic burden of disease in the UK are largely unknown. 
Intrapartum antibiotic prophylaxis (IAP) can reduce the incidence of GBSD. As a result of the implementation of IAP in other countries and an increasing awareness of GBSD in the UK, there is a call for national guidelines. Guidelines need to be evidence based, drawing on UK - specific data. These data will be obtained through:
1. Active, prospective national surveillance of culture positive GBSD. 
This will be conducted through the British Paediatric Surveillance Unit. Paediatricians will be asked to report cases. To provide completeness and validation, two extant microbiological reporting systems will be employed: microbiologists reporting cases of GBS to the Communicable Disease Surveillance Centre and sending isolates to the Streptococcal Reference Laboratory.
2. Active, prospective surveillance of clinical GBSD. 
Six large neonatal units will use a standardised case definition to estimate the additional amount of culture negative cases of GBSD.
3. A case control study (CCS). 
This will recruit GBSD cases resident in London. Cases will be matched with 2 controls and data on the mother, delivery and neonatal period will be extracted from the case notes. Cases/ controls will be followed up again at 2 years of age to assess their long-term outcome.

Read our news release on this project:

First national surveillance of GBS meningitis and septicaemia in the UK and Ireland

Results from this study have been published in scientific journals as follows:

Heath PT, Balfour G, Weisner AM, Efstratiou A, Lamagni TL, Tighe H, O'Connell LA, Cafferkey M, Verlander NQ, Nicoll A, McCartney AC.
Group B streptococcal disease in UK and Irish infants younger than 90 days.
Lancet 2004 Jan 24;363(9405):292-4.

Weisner AM, Johnson AP, Lamagni TL, Warner M, Heath PT, Efstratiou A.
Characterization of group B streptococci recovered from infants with invasive disease in England and Wales.
Clin Infect Dis 2004 May 1;38(9):1203-8. Epub 2004 Apr 14.

John Wood
Bacterial Meningitis
Bacterial Meningitis at 44

... from being completely healthy to being in a coma was 36 hours

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