Group B Streptococcal Neonatal and Early Infancy Infections in Iceland 1976 – 2015

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Despite a risk-based peripartum chemoprophylaxis approach in Iceland since 1996, Streptococcus agalactiae (GBS) remains an important cause of early-onset (<7 days, EOD) and late-onset disease (7 days to 3 months, LOD).


We studied GBS invasive disease in children <1 year in Iceland in 1976-2015. Bacteria (n=98) were characterized by susceptibility to a panel of antimicrobials, capsular serotyping, resistance genes, surface protein and pilus-locus profiling, and multilocus sequence typing.


Both EOD and LOD increased during the early years, but while EOD subsequently decreased from 0.7/1000 live births in 1991-1995 to 0.2/1000 in 2011-2015, LOD showed a non-significant decrease from its peak value of 0.6/1000 in 2001-2005 to 0.4/1000 in 2006-2015. Serotype III was the most frequently found (n=48), represented mostly by the hypervirulent lineage CC17/III/rib/PI-1+PI-2b (62%), but also by CC19/III/rib/PI-1+PI-2a (35%) frequently associated with colonization. Serotype Ia (n=22) was represented by CC23/Ia/eps/PI-2a (68%), and CC7/Ia/bca/PI-1+PI-2b (23%) of possible zoonotic origin. Resistance to erythromycin and clindamycin was increasingly detected in the last years of the study (five out of the nine cases were isolated after 2013), including representatives of a multiresistant CC17/III/rib/PI-2b sublineage described recently in other countries and expressing resistance to erythromycin, clindamycin and streptomycin.


The risk-based chemoprophylaxis adopted in Iceland possibly contributed to the decline of EOD but has had limited effect on LOD. GBS causing neonatal and early infancy invasive infections in Iceland are genetically diverse and the recent emergence of antimicrobial resistant lineages may reduce the choices for prophylaxis and therapy of these infections.

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