A urinary tract infection caused by Streptococcus bacteria is relatively uncommon. Certain populations are more at risk than others, but seeking treatment is important for all.

Infections caused by Streptococcus, or strep, bacteria can be worrisome for certain populations. There are different types of strep bacteria that can affect different areas of the body and cause symptoms.

Group B strep is a type of bacteria sometimes implicated as the cause of urinary tract infections (UTIs). Although group B strep is much less frequently the cause of UTIs than other bacteria, it can lead to similar symptoms.

Treatment typically includes oral antibiotics, but the therapy may be more aggressive if you’re pregnant.

Strep bacteria live in people’s gastrointestinal and genital tracts, and they typically do not cause harm.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it’s not fully understood how strep bacteria, also known as Streptococcus agalactiae, spreads among people and causes a strep UTI.

What is known, however, is that a pregnant person can transmit the bacteria to their baby during delivery. Healthcare professionals routinely test pregnant people for group B strep bacteria in order to prevent severe illness or complications for the baby.

Symptoms of a Streptococcus UTI

Symptoms of a Streptococcus UTI may include:

  • fever
  • painful or burning urination
  • frequent urination
  • increased urge to urinate
  • pressure or pain in the lower abdomen
  • lower back pain
  • red, pink, or dark colored urine

Are UTIs from Streptococcus common?

In general, UTIs from strep are not common. Group B strep bacteria are native to the gastrointestinal and genital tracts of some people, where they typically live without causing harm. It’s not currently known how the bacteria spreads to other people.

Group B strep accounts for 2% to 3% of UTIs in healthy adults. According to a 2021 study, infections are more commonly observed in the following groups:

  • people who are immunocompromised, such as those living with diabetes or cancer
  • older adults
  • pregnant people
  • people with obesity

According to the CDC, about 25% of pregnant women carry group B strep.

If you have symptoms of a UTI and are pregnant, it’s important to get tested immediately to prevent spreading the bacteria to your baby.

In addition to pregnant women, women ages 60 and older are more often affected by group B strep.

In addition to UTIs, group B strep can also cause:

Group A strep is also known as Streptococcus pyogenes and is a different species of Streptococcus bacteria. Perhaps the most well-known manifestation of group A strep is a sore throat, commonly called strep throat or strep pharyngitis. However, it can also cause other illnesses, such as:

According to the World Health Organization, up to 33% of all people worldwide carry group B strep, and they usually have no symptoms. It’s more often the case that group B strep bacteria exists harmlessly in the body rather than causing an infection.

Like most other bacterial causes of UTIs, a strep infection usually resolves with treatment within 3 to 4 days.

According to 2016 research, the time to clear the infection can be longer than 3 to 4 days if you develop complications such as cystitis or a kidney infection. This is more likely to occur if you have an underlying chronic condition, such as an autoimmune disorder or a structural abnormality in your urinary system.

Treatment for a strep UTI often includes oral antibiotics, and penicillin is the preferred antibiotic, according to 2019 research.

The standard course lasts anywhere from 3 to 7 days, depending on your symptoms. Treatment may be longer if there are any signs of complications. If you’re pregnant, antibiotics are typically administered intravenously.

What happens if a strep urinary infection goes without treatment?

An untreated urinary infection can lead to worse symptoms and complications, including:

If you’re pregnant and have a group B strep UTI, seeking treatment is extremely important. Group B strep can cause severe illness or life threatening complications in babies. In order to prevent complications, healthcare professionals routinely test for group B strep during pregnancy.

A UTI caused by group B strep can be treated without an issue and is not inherently dangerous for most people. Treatment is critical for pregnant people and other susceptible populations in order to prevent complications.

If you have any symptoms of a UTI, seek treatment as soon as possible. The only way to tell what is causing the infection is to get tested. Once you’re tested, a healthcare professional will prescribe you the appropriate treatment.