Mum dies of strep infection after giving birth in Palmerston North Hospital

A new mum has died in Palmerston North Hospital after she contracted a rare and devastating infection after giving birth.

The woman was one of three new mums found to have contracted Strep A infections after birth.

One of the births was at Palmerston North, and two were at Te Papaioea Birthing Centre. 

All three women received care from independent midwives, reports Stuff.

"The three recent cases at MidCentral were not linked in any way," said MidCentral District Health Board Chief Medical Officer Dr Kenneth Clark. 

He also said a full investigation is being conducted into the woman's death.

 "The third case, in which a woman died, is being fully reviewed and will be reported nationally to the Health Quality and Safety Commission."

Dr Clark says the bacteria that cause Strep A are very common, and it's rare for it to result in fatality.

"In normal healthy people, Group A streptococci infections are generally mild illnesses such as skin infections like impetigo, cellulitis, infected eczema or strep throat."

However, women who have recently given birth are at greater risk, as their immunity is altered.

"Women who have recently given birth are particularly vulnerable to infection by Group A streptococci  due to their immune response being altered, related to the recent pregnancy and also the fact they have a potential portal for infection; the wound site from which the placenta recently detached."

The bacteria can be spread via coughing, or contact with infected skin. It can also be passed via contact with contaminated surfaces. 

Dr Clark says proper hygiene; including thorough hand washing can help prevent infections.