Woman, 37, Dies From Flesh-eating Bacteria Days After Giving Birth

An estimated 20 people fall ill with the bacteria in Israel each year, but death as a result is rare.

An Israeli woman succumbed to infection from a flesh eating bacteria on Friday, just days after giving birth to a healthy son.

The 37-year-old woman died while hospitalized at Soroka University Medical Center, where she had been admitted on Monday. While the birth went smoothly, the woman's health gradually deteriorated during her stay at the hospital.

pregnant - Haaretz - December 1 2009

Blood tests taken from the woman indicate she was infected by Type A Streptococcus bacteria, known as the flesh-eating bacteria. "Her health began deteriorating after giving birth, and unfortunately – despite intensive treatment in the emergency ward, including various types of antibiotics – she passed away," said a medical center official. The Health Ministry management was notified of the case.

The woman's death is considered a rare case in Israel. Type A Streptococcus is a bacteria commonly found in the mouth, on skin or on genitalia and normally does not lead to medical injury. But in rare instances it may penetrate to the body's internal tissues, causing extensive pollution and rapid deterioration of the patient's medical condition, until their system totally shuts down or until they die.

It is estimated that more than 20 people are infected with the flesh-eating bacteria in Israel each year. Women are more susceptible to being infected with the bacteria leading up to childbirth, or during labor. According to medical estimations, each year fourteen women fall sick with the bacteria leading up to childbirth. Even so, death as a result of the bacteria is considered irregular.

During October and November 2010 three instances of childbirth related deaths were reported in Israel, due to various causes. A Jerusalem mother died from preeclampsia and two women died after giving birth to embryos killed by a ruptured major blood vessel. In May 2010 the Sheba Medical Center reported that five women were infected with the flesh-eating bacteria.

An epidemiologic investigation revealed that the women had been infected by a staff member carrying the bacteria. Speedy action by the hospital's medical staff curbed the continued infection of patients and saved the lives of those women who had already been infected.