GAS Infections (Group A Streptococcus) In Pregnancy

What is a GAS infection?
Group A Streptococcus is a bacterium which may be present in the throat, on the skin or within the anogenital tract (Anogenital tract name for the area including both the anus and genital tract which includes the external and internal sex organs in men and women). Although it can cause many infections some people carry Group A Streptococcus without any symptoms being observed.

GAS infections are spread through:
• close contact between individuals, through direct contact with mucus from the nose or throat of a person infected with the bacteria even if they have no symptoms of infection.
• contaminated objects

Group A Streptococcus (GAS Infections) have had peaks over recent years and there is currently an increase in cases, especially in children and young people. Children under the age of 4 are a big contributor in transmitting infections due to their close proximity to other children and adults.

Children often rely on adults for their hygiene, health & feeding needs, and therefore if you work with children, already have children in the home or have small children as part of your wider family network, then the infection risk increases.

Why am I at more Risk In Pregnancy?
Pregnancy reduces the body’s immune system and therefore it is much easier for you to acquire the infection.
Children are considered are a common source of infection transmission due to their higher rates of GAS infections in the throat.

Prevention:
* Hand washing. It is one of the most effective ways to protect against germs which cause infection and illness
* Covering your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze will prevent mucus droplets to become airborne and enable any germs to be disposed of.
* Avoid sharing bedding and eating utensils as viral and bacterial infections can be transmitted by direct contact as well as through mucus.

Good hand hygiene is the first step in avoiding GAS infections Knowing when to wash our hands and how to wash our hands is the key to protecting ourselves or reducing our risk of infection and illness!

Signs & Symptoms of illness associate with GAS infections
** Tonsillitis & Pharyngitis – sore throat, difficulty swallowing, red swollen tonsils.

** Impetigo – fluid filled blisters, itchy rash, breaks on the skin.

** Cellulitis – redness or swelling on areas on the skin which are warm to touch, pain in the affected area, pus/abscess in the affected area.

** Pneumonia – dry cough, wheezing, nausea/vomiting, aching muscles, chest pain.

When should I get help?

If you have an illness which is left untreated, such as those listed above, it can quickly develop into a severe infection called Sepsis. Sepsis requires early diagnosis and antibiotic treatment.
Signs of Sepsis include:
• High Temperature (38.0꙳C)
• Headache
• Chills and shivering
• Fast heartbeat (over 100 beats per minute)
• Severe Abdominal Pain
• Fast breathing, breathlessness
• Extreme sleepiness

Reducing Your Risk

In the Antenatal period
• Wash your hands with soap and water frequently as well as before/ after using the lavatory or changing pads
• Wash the vaginal area from front to back.
• Don’t share eating utensils, bedding or towels
• Avoid close contact with nose and mouth mucus, especially from children, example kissing – kiss on the forehead instead.

Following Birth
• Washing hands with soap and water before/ after using the lavatory and when changing sanitary towels.
• Contamination of the perineum can occur when a woman has a sore throat or upper respiratory infection as the organism may be transferred from the throat or nose via her hands to her perineum. Washing hands before/ after using the lavatory or changing sanitary towels.
• Keep wound areas clean

You MAY BE at an increased risk if you have:
1. A raised BMI (>30)
2. Impaired immunity
3. Anemia
4. Increased vaginal discharge
5. History of pelvic or GBS infections
6. Had any antenatal Invasive procedures such as amniocentesis
7. GAS in contacts or other close family members – especially children
8. You work in close contact with children
9. Minority ethnic groups
10. Diabetics
11. Your waters have broken for over 24 hours.
12. Vaginal trauma/ Caesarean section/ wound issues
13. Any retained placenta following delivery

This information is not for diagnostic purposes but rather to provide information for you to seek further advice and assessment especially if you feel may have any signs or symptoms of illness.
If you feel this is so please contact your GP or Midwife

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