Serotype-Specific Acquisition and Loss of Group B Streptococcus Recto-Vaginal Colonization in Late Pregnancy
Maternal recto-vaginal colonization with Group B Streptococcus (GBS) and consequent vertical transmission to the newborn predisposes neonates to early-onset invasive GBS disease. This study aimed to determine the acquisition and loss of serotype-specific recto-vaginal GBS colonization from 20-37+ weeks of gestational age. Methods: Vaginal and rectal swabs were collected from HIV-uninfected women at 20-25 weeks of gestation age and at 5-6 weekly intervals thereafter. Swabs were cultured for GBS
... nd isolates were serotyped by latex agglutination. Serologically non-typable isolates and pilus islands were characterized by PCR. Results: The prevalence of recto-vaginal GBS colonization was 33.0%, 32.7%, 28.7% and 28.4% at 20-25 weeks, 26-30 weeks, 31-35 weeks and 37+ weeks of gestational age, respectively. The most common identified serotypes were Ia (39.2%), III (32.8%) and V (12.4%). Of 507 participants who completed all four study visits, the cumulative overall recto-vaginal acquisition rate of new serotypes during the study was 27.9%, including 11.2%, 8.2% and 4.3% for serotypes Ia, III and V, respectively. Comparing the common colonizing serotypes, serotype III was more likely to be associated with persistent colonization throughout the study (29%) than Ia (18%; p = 0.045) or V (6%; p = 0.002). The median duration of recto-vaginal GBS colonization for serotype III was 6.35 weeks, which was longer than other serotypes. Pilus island proteins were detected in all GBS isolates and their subtype distribution was associated with specific serotypes. Conclusion: South African pregnant women have a high prevalence of GBS recto-vaginal colonization from 20 weeks of gestational age onwards, including high GBS acquisition rates in the last pregnancy-trimesters. There are differences in specific-serotype colonization patterns during pregnancy.