Apr 2, 2012

Late Onset Group B Streptococcus Infection

I am a person that has to put distance between a terrible event before I can comfortably talk about it.  When Jack got sick, he wouldn't eat all afternoon.  This from a baby who never missed a time to nurse.  He was crying and crying a terrible little cry that was weak and moany.  It was Friday afternoon and the doctor's office was going to try to fit us in at 3:05.  I called twice to see if they had anything sooner, his little sounds were so torturous and two hours was too long to wait.  His fever worsened and by the time we got to the doctor I was scared.  I was glad I called the doctor instead of trying to wait out the fever. At 103° the pediatrician insisted we go straight to the emergency room.  She said the odd cry was because he was struggling to breath.  I rushed Ella into the car and drove as fast as I could three blocks and found a parking place.  Inside the triage nurse just asked us our names and ran us into the back where doctors swarmed and poked and scratched their heads.  Jack's neck started to swell up as he was going septic.  He was six weeks old.

This video is what it sounds like when a sick infant is having a hard time breathing. This was just before we left for the doctors office.  

video

I tested negative for Group B Strep (GBS) at the end of my pregnancy so antibiotics were never given.  In fact I've had occasion to be tested again and I'm still negative.  It's a bacterium a good amount of people carry on their skin, it's something you can get from a grocery cart, a handshake, a library book, a baby present.  Most people never know they carry it, because it's a wimpy bacteria killed by penicillin.  For babies it can be deadly.  That is what Jack had.  Babies usually get it when they are born, it's very unusual for a six week old to get it, but it happens.  Late onset Group B Strep can lead to meningitis, brain damage, hearing loss, life long handicaps or even death.  Jack escaped all of those things.  He's scrappy like that.  I stayed in the NICU with him for 13 days while he received intravenous sterile antibiotics. He responded well to them in the first few days and so doctors were optimistic.  I lived in dread of his IV falling out again.  His veins were so small and hard to find to get it back in was a delicate catastrophe of blowing out vein after vein, searching under the skin with a needle and holding him down.

Leading up to the day Jack wouldn't eat, he had a rash.  It looked like a heat rash all over his face, I called ask-a-nurse and she suggested if that was the only symptom he had that is was likely baby acne and I should just keep a close eye on it.  It was hard to tell if he was sleeping out of the ordinary, or acting differently, we just met and I wasn't sure what the usual Jack behavior was yet.  Once he was in the hospital and on the antibiotics the rash went away, almost immediately.  It wasn't baby acne, heat rash, 'stork bites' or sensitive skin, it was infection running all over his whole body.  By the time Jack got a fever, the strep bacteria was winning, his white blood cell count was in the hundreds.

This was Jack's rash



I still wonder how his stay at the hospital effected him, how it may or may not have shaped his personality or pain tolerance or zest for life. He is so much like my littlest brother who was born with a club foot and endured similar poking a prodding and even surgeries.  He's spirited and particular, funny and bright, he figures a thing out quickly and is awesomely coordinated - both Jack and my brother. 

This is strong, scrappy Jack now.




July is Group B Streptococcus Infection Awareness month, the same month Jack was born.  I'm posting this now though because it's important and I was finally ready to say it.  One in four pregnant women carry it.  All doctors here in the U.S. test for it.  It's not something most people need to worry about, just something you should be aware of.  It's far scarier and more dangerous to put our baby in the car and drive everyday.  I have only this advice, wash your hands often, if your baby is under six months old and has a fever - see a doctor right away and if you feel something is "off" or "wrong" follow your intuition, it's hardly ever wrong. 

13 comments:

Eli Jemison said...

Hi,
My daughter Juno has a similar rash in her face and arms, though none of the other symptoms you described. I figured I would keep my eye out however as that is a harrowing story. The reason I write this is because I wanted to watch the video to hear Jack's cry to keep an eye out for that, but it seems the video is down. (At least on my iPhone it doesn't work) is there a better link?
I know how dangerous it is to look up medical things on the Internet, as you alway end up finding the most extreme or terrifying cases and can easily be convinced that that MUST be it.

Jenny said...

Jack had that rash for about a week before he got the fever. I'd say if Juno is younger than 6 months, take her in to the doc and if she has a fever AND is younger than 6 months move fast. Any fever in a baby younger than 6 months is terrible. I'm uploading the video to you tube for you right now, I'll post the link in a few minutes. I feel like it's that important.


Yes, diagnosing from the internet isn't best. Just trust your gut. You know.

Jenny said...

You tube video here:

http://youtu.be/z3wjlufZKHo

NikkiD said...

Hi! My 6 week old has been congested for two weeks and has had this rash about the same amount of time. She has no fever. She has seen the doctor twice, and she says it is a cold and cradle cap. It's not cradle cap, there is no scaling. The stuffiness concerns me, and now so does the rash. Advice?

Jenny said...

Nikki, If you have concerns and you aren't satisfied with what the doctor say ALWAYS GET A SECOND OPINION. ALWAYS.

Mention to the next doctor you have a concern about Group B Strep, it's an easy thing to test for, just like strep throat, they take a culture and grow it. Not hard at all.

Trust yourself. Mommies know best. Get a second opinion.

Anonymous said...

Hi Jenny/All,

Recently my nephew has been diagnosed with Strep near left armpit and chest had swallowed. Doctors did minor surgery and started antibiotics. He was in hospital for 8 days, and started recovering after 5 days of surgery i.e. fever started normal else it was normally 102/103 once in day. Now for last 2 weeks he is at home and normal playing and enjoying, otherwise he was keeping sick before the diagnose.
When the surgery was done the swallow area/red rash was around 70% hard as per doctors and now it has started softening.
For last 2 weeks antibiotics are going at home but the area still has swallow/red rash though very less - 10-15% as compare to early. Doctors have changed the antibiotics 2 days back so to take care appropriately.
My question is do to have any idea how long it takes for the red rash to disappear 100% ?
Thanks a lot in advance.

Regards,
Sachin

Jenny said...

Sachin,

My son's rash disappeared the same day they started the antibiotics. The swollen red area in his neck took a few days to go completely away. Jack was receiving a very wide spectrum antibiotic at first and they narrowed it down later to a simple penicillin.

I'm glad your nephew is doing better. I hope he continues to recover quickly.

Best,
Jenny

Anonymous said...

Hi Jenny,

Thanks for your response. Yes, he is doing better now.

Regards,
Sachin

Jenny said...

Sachin,

That's terrific news. Thank you for letting me know.

Best,
Jenny

Katherine D said...

I'm currently in the hospital with my 32 weeker, whose currently 9 weeks old. The only symptoms we had were a fever of 100.5 and he was unusually cranky! Blood culture came back positive for group b strep! Still waiting results on his twin brothers labs... he has no symptoms. How did you explain to your family members this disease? I keep repeating the doctors but they keep trying to find something/someone to blame for this... I'm like.. it's just a really bad germ he contracted, it could have come from anywhere. Kvmd12@gmail.com

Jenny said...

I explain it likethis; it's a germ people carry on their skin. It's not a big deal for most of us, but little babies have no immunities yet and it's deadly to them. This germ is so puny, plain old penicillin kicks it's butt, so it's not a big deal unless you're a baby. It's found on the skin of other people, on grocery store carts and library books and money and anywhere you can find a common cold.

To be honest, I spent months trying to figure out who was at fault too. It's tough to have nobody to be mad at when your baby is ill. I went through every person that touched him in my head wondering who maybe didn't wash their hands or trying to figure out if I touched something weird and then touched him. I never figured it out. It didn't matter anyway. It happened. It wasn't anyone fault.

I'm glad you have a quick diagnosis and he's getting good treatment. Are you stuck in the hospital getting iv antibiotics? Please remember to take care of yourself too and keep me posted if you think of it.

All my best.

sachin chawla said...

Hi Katherine,
As mentioned by Jenny its correct as not to think too much as from where it got carried but it matters to get the best treatment done as available.

Regards,
Sachin

sachin chawla said...

Hi Katherine,
As mentioned by Jenny its correct as not to think too much as from where it got carried but it matters to get the best treatment done as available.

Regards,
Sachin