The increased mortality was undoubtedly due to unsuspected plague cases of either the pneumonic or the septicemic type.
Dr. Piorry, in a second communication, insists upon the fact, that in a great number of cases the decaying contents of the uterus, and the putrid infection of the blood from this source, constitute the so-called puerperal fever, and he thinks that the discussion in the Academy is only a fight about words, as the different speakers agree, without knowing it themselves, upon the nature of the disease. He proposes the name of septicemia, as best designating the sources of the disease, viz., from putrid infection from the uterus, and by the respiration of an atmosphere pregnant with septic particles. ... The admission of this septicemia explains the putrid accidents, as observed in men, the foetus, and wounded persons during a puerperal epidemic. [E. Noeggerath and A. Jacobi, "Contributions to Midwifery," New York, 1859]
septicemia sep·ti·ce·mi·a (sěp'tĭ-sē'mē-ə)
A systemic disease caused by the multiplication of microorganisms in the blood. Also called blood poisoning, septic fever.