Historically, puerperal fever was a devastating disease. It affected women within the first three days after childbirth and progressed rapidly, causing acute symptoms of severe abdominal pain, fever and debility.
The most common infection causing puerperal fever is genital tract sepsis caused by contaminated medical equipment or unhygienic medical staff who contaminate the mother's genital tract during the delivery. Other types of infection that can lead to sepsis after childbirth include urinary tract infection, breast infection (mastitis) and respiratory tract infection (more common after anaesthesia due to lesions in the trachea). Puerperal fever is now rare in the West due to improved hygiene during delivery, and the few infections that do occur are usually treatable with antibiotics.
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