Herpes Kills Two Mothers in the UK

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Courtesy of Yale Rosen (Flickr CC0)

Two mothers in the United Kingdom have died from a herpes strain called the HSV-1. Kimberly Sampson, 29, and Samantha Mulchay, 32, entered the hospital — six weeks apart — to give birth to their new bundle of joy. Unfortunately, both momma’s never made it out of the medical facility.

It is extremely rare for a healthy individual to die from herpes, but in May and July 2018 Sampson and Mulchay contracted the infection and passed away. Both of their families are calling for an inquest into their cases, however, they were informed there was no connection between the deaths.

The two mothers both had to have a Cesarean (C-Section) which was performed by the same surgeon. It is suspected this doctor may have somehow infected the women with herpes. However, the surgeon had no history of the virus, according to the East Kent Hospitals Trust.

Courtesy of OnCall team (Flickr CC0)

Maternal deaths are rare. Between 2017 and 2019 there were over 2.1 million births in the U.K. Of those, only 191 mothers died within six weeks of delivering, according to the country’s official figures.

Herpes simplex virus is more commonly known as a sexually transmitted disease. Most individuals with the virus experience no symptoms. Even though people have no signs of herpes they can still spread it to their sexual partners.

Oral herpes can result in fever blisters or cold sores around or on the mouth. Many individuals with oral herpes were infected as a child or young adult from non-sexual contact with saliva. HSV-1 can be spread from the mouth to the genitals through oral sex.

Genital herpes is a common virus in the United States. One out of every six people between the ages of 14 to 49 years old has genital herpes.

The two deaths were investigated by a pathologist who believes the women had been infected before being admitted to the hospital.

Peter Greenhouse, a sexual health consultant, stated it was “very unlikely that they acquired [the infection] before they got into the hospital.” He believes it is more probable that the surgeon unknowingly infected the women during their C-Sections. Greenhouse explained the doctor might have had the HSV-1 infection on their finger which could have  “directly seeded the [virus] into the abdomen of the women” inadvertently.

Sampson is survived by her two children, her mother, family, and friends. Mulcahy is survived by her husband, child, family, and friends.

Written by Sheena Robertson


BBC: New mothers who died of herpes could have been infected by one surgeon; by James Melley and Michael Buchanan

Daily Mail: Two new mothers who died of herpes six weeks apart ‘could have been infected by the same surgeon who delivered their babies by C-section’; by Henry Martin

CDC: Genital Herpes – CDC Fact Sheet

Top and Featured Image Courtesy of Yale Rosen’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License

Inset Image by JD Lasica Courtesy of OnCall team’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License

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