Strep A 'slightly more common' in postpartum women: specialist

WATCH ABOVE: Since Global News reported on a young mother's death from Group A Streptococcus while in hospital, other new moms have reached out to say they too have suffered from the bacterial infection. So why are women postpartum seemingly more at risk? Caryn Lieberman reports.

New mother Ashley Milucci spends a snowy afternoon on her living room floor playing with her active eight-month-old son.

“It’s been challenging being a new mom, but I get to do that,” she said.

Milucci treasures these simple pleasures given what she endured after Christian was born in June, 2017.

READ MORE: 9 dead in invasive group A strep outbreak in London, Ont., health officials say

“I woke up at about 2 o’clock in the morning with a fever,” Milucci recalled.

“I was just absolutely freezing. I couldn’t get warm. I ended up having to tell my husband to crawl into the hospital bed with me and then I got really really hot.”

A first-time mom, Milucci said she read about postpartum recovery and felt something was not right.

“Never had I read about fevers. I knew that having a fever wasn’t really supposed to be something I would necessarily be having unless there was something wrong,” she said.

READ MORE: Ontario father questions why 24-year-old wife died post-childbirth

Tests were conducted and Milucci said she learned she contracted Group A Streptococcus. She said it could have come from the hospital, although it was never confirmed.

A hospital spokesperson previously told Global News there was only one confirmed case of hospital-acquired Strep A in February and Markham Stouffville Hospital previously never had a hospital-acquired case of the bacteria on its childbirth unit.

Twenty-four-year-old Ayesha Riaz gave birth at Markham Stouffville Hospital, where she acquired Group A Strep and died last month.

WATCH: Grieving father questions why 24-year-old wife died post-childbirth at Canadian hospital (March 7)

Since then, other new mothers have reached out to Global News to say they too fell sick from the same bacterial infection after childbirth.

Infectious Diseases Specialist Dr. Isaac Bogoch said while it is rare, Group A Strep appears to be slightly higher in women postpartum.

“There is a signal amongst the noise in the sense that it is slightly more common, in that population, and it’s not clear why,” he noted.

Bogoch said there are a number of theories on this, which include, “some of the hormonal changes that might make people more susceptible to infections.”

“It might be some subtle changes that happen to the body around pregnancy. It might simply be that there might be open wounds and the normal skin barriers aren’t entirely closed so there is a greater opportunity for the bacteria to become invasive,” he said.

In Ashley Milucci’s case, hospital staff diagnosed Group A Strep rather quickly, and she was treated, allowing her a life as a mother to Christian. She said knowing Ayesha Riaz’s family was not as fortunate, she feels grateful

“It’s troubling to understand why it got that far and unfortunately why it wasn’t treated quickly enough,” Milucci said.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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