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Dangerous Form of Strep can be transmitted by oral sex

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Dangerous Strep Bug Can Be Spread by Oral Sex

August 28, 2002 10:28 AM ET

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By Keith Mulvihill

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - A bacterial infection dangerous to infants can be spread by sexual activity between men and women, particularly oral sex, new study findings show.

While group B streptococcal infection (GBS) rarely makes healthy young adults sick, the bug can cause health problems for pregnant women and babies, the study's lead investigator, Dr. Betsy Foxman, explained in an interview with Reuters Health. GBS can also sicken elderly people or those with existing medical problems.

"Pregnant women who are colonized with GBS have a one in two chance of passing GBS to their newborn if they are not treated with antibiotics during labor and delivery," said Foxman, who is with the University of Michigan School of Public Health in Ann Arbor.

Infection in newborns can cause neonatal sepsis--a massive immune response that can be fatal--and meningitis, an infection of the membranes surrounding the brain that can be fatal or lead to brain damage, Foxman explained.

"Although GBS is treatable with antibiotics, increasingly, GBS is becoming resistant to antibiotics," she added, "Of every 100 newborn babies infected with GBS, 4 to 6 will die."

Based on these facts, health experts have been increasingly interested in learning more about how GBS is spread.

To investigate, the team of researchers evaluated 120 heterosexual couples for the presence of GBS. Each partner also completed a questionnaire that assessed their sexual habits and risk factors for becoming a GBS carrier. The findings are published in the September issue of the journal Epidemiology.

"We demonstrated...that among heterosexual couples co-colonized with GBS, 86% carried the identical strain. Further, we identified engaging in oral sex as a risk factor for co-colonization with the identical strain," Foxman said.

"While sexual activity between men and women has been suspected to be important in transmitting GBS, this is the first study to give tangible evidence that sexual transmission occurs," added Foxman.

Since male-to-female oral sex resulted in increased co-colonization with group B strep, Foxman advocates safe sex practices, such as using dental dams and condoms when engaging in oral sex.

These practices "would minimize transmission via this route and prevent transmission of other sexually transmitted diseases as well," she said.

SOURCE: Epidemiology 2002;13:533-539.

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oh people come on, this is just paranoia. OF COURSE you can get numerous deseases during sexual intercourse. but seriously, you DO NOT want to know what deseases you *COULD* get during a 5 minute ride in the subway. this is all STUPID panic.

go to your doc regularely, he will know what to check for, you can´t do ANYTHING ELSE ANYWAY. oh, of course you can stop having sex at all, but then you should also avoid coming close to others AT ALL, and you should avoid using the sub, and you should eat healthier food, and you should not live or WORK in the city due to the air that *COULD* cause cancer, ETC. ETC. ETC.

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