The International Symposium on Streptococcus Agalactiae Disease 2018 (ISSAD-2018) took place from the 20th until 23rd of February 2018, in Cape Town, South Africa. This symposium was the first of its kind, bringing together key stakeholders, experts and students in various fields of Group B Streptococcus (GBS), which is the leading cause of bacterial meningitis in young infants in the UK and USA, and one of the most common causes of sepsis in neonates and young infants globally.

GBS is an important cause of stillbirths, with 1% and 4% of stillbirths in developed and developing countries respectively being GBS-associated. Maternal vagino-rectal colonization is a pre-requisite for foetal/ infant GBS disease. It was co-organised by Prof Ajoke Sobanjo-ter Meulen (Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation) and Prof Shabir A. Madhi (University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg). The event was attended by 242 delegates from over 37 different countries.

The aims of the symposium were to bring together experts and key stakeholders in various fields of GBS for enhanced collaboration, advance the thinking, and exchange ideas aimed at progressing the field forward. 

ISSAD-2018 comprised of a single-stream of oral presentations including a number of plenary talks and free oral papers, together with time slots for posters to be shared. There was also ample opportunity for informal networking, discussion and debate with fellow professionals in the field, including a networking dinner. The Inaugural Carol J. Baker Lecture by Prof Carol J. Baker took place on the 2nd day introduced by Prof Shabir A. Madhi, followed by a gala dinner.

Prof Carol J. Baker

The symposium served as the perfect interactive and comprehensive platform, that covered topics ranging from the GBS colonization, disease burden and challenges, epidemiology, immunology, vaccinology and prevention of the Group B Strep disease. Additionally, a session on advocacy highlighted the impact that GBS disease has on patients, parents and health care workers