Consecutive stool samples from 116 female and 98 male patients (both adults and children), and rectal and vaginal swabs from 28 and 53 cases respectively, were quantitatively cultured for group B streptococci using Islam's medium. Group B streptococcus was recovered from 5% and 2% of faeces in female and male patients respectively, and the colony counts ranged from 10(2) to 10(3)/g. In women, the faecal carriage rate was 6%, which was significantly lower than the rectal carriage rate (p 0.02), suggesting that the higher recovery rate (27%) from rectal specimens may be due to contamination of swabs by perianal skin flora. Type II group B streptococcus was the only faecal isolate in adults (numbers involved are small for statistical significance), and we suspect that this type strain may be the only resident gut flora in adults, and the gastrointestinal tract is unlikely to serve as the main reservoir of all group B streptococci.
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