Kissing is an activity that almost all people will engage in at some point in their lives, hopefully more than once. Sometimes, it’s magical. Other times, it’s awkward. But it’s usually harmless.
At any given moment, there are people across the world who are locked in kisses. When something happens that often, it’s inevitable that unusual things will occur. Sometimes, these kisses can even turn lethal.
10 Myriam Ducre-Lemay
In October 2012, 20-year-old Myriam Ducre-Lemay attended a party in Montreal with her new boyfriend before heading back to his place for the night. The two shared a kiss as they were getting into bed, only for Myriam to suddenly experience a lot of trouble breathing. It turned out that Myriam’s new boyfriend had eaten a peanut butter sandwich before brushing his teeth. He was unaware that she had a severe peanut allergy.
With only a broken inhaler and no EpiPen with her, Myriam was immediately taken to the hospital by ambulance. Though the ambulance arrived only eight minutes after being called, Myriam died as a result of oxygen deprivation to the brain. Myriam’s mother has used her tragic death as an opportunity to call for those with allergies to wear a Medic Alert bracelet and carry an EpiPen at all times.
9 Mariana Sifrit
On July 10, 2017, partners Nicole Kilpatrick and Shane Sifrit married. This was a particularly special time for the couple as their daughter, Mariana, had just been born nine days earlier.
But a few hours after the couple tied the knot, they noticed that Mariana would not wake up. Soon, she wasn’t breathing. She was airlifted to the University of Iowa Children’s Hospital where she was stabilized. Unfortunately, Mariana’s young immune system was too weak to protect her and she died eight days later.
Mariana was diagnosed with meningitis HSV-1. This is a viral form of meningitis that occurs as a result of contracting the herpes simplex virus, the virus that causes cold sores. Her parents were both tested, and it was determined that the virus had not come from them.
It is believed that Mariana contracted the virus when kissed by a carrier of it, which can occur even if the person does not have a visible cold sore. However, Nicole says that she and her husband have no interest in discovering who passed on the infection, adding that it would be better if they didn’t know.
8 Jemma Benjamin
On April 30, 2009, 18-year-old Welsh student Jemma Benjamin spent the day studying for her university French exam. When she was finished, she met up with fellow student Daniel Ross and went out for a few drinks. Later, they returned to his place. The two kissed just outside his apartment before Daniel took her inside.
As Daniel was showing Jemma around the apartment, she sat down on the couch in the living room. This is when Daniel noticed that her eyelids were drooping and she was foaming at the mouth. Before he knew it, Jemma had collapsed.
The ambulance had to be called twice before finally showing up over 20 minutes later. At that point, Jemma had died. An autopsy was performed, and it was determined that Jemma had died from sudden adult death syndrome.
Though an inquest found that the ambulance service had failed to respond quickly enough, the pathologist determined that they would have been unable to save her. Her father has since set up a memorial fund to help with the early identification of cardiac issues in young people.
7 Anthony Powell
Melissa Ann Blair and Anthony Powell met when Blair’s husband, a former inmate, received a letter from Powell, who was serving a life sentence for the murder of his mother-in-law. Blair responded to the letter, and the two began a back-and-forth that eventually turned into a romantic relationship. On June 2, 2016, Blair went to see Powell, now her boyfriend, for a visit that ended in a long kiss. A few hours later, Powell was dead.
During the kiss, Blair had passed seven balloons of methamphetamines to Powell, two of which soon ruptured in his stomach and killed him. Although Blair and Powell were both found to have shared responsibility in his death, Blair was not charged with manslaughter or any similar charges. However, she was sentenced to two years in prison for drug conspiracy charges, followed by a three-year supervision order.
6 Abby Fenstermaker
In early 2009, Ohio-native John Strike contracted a deadly form of E. coli from a burger made with contaminated meat. After a few weeks of being treated in intensive care, Strike was moved to a rehabilitation center where he would spend the foreseeable future recovering from his illness.
Soon after he was moved, Strike’s seven-year-old granddaughter, Abby, fell ill. Abby had recently been on antibiotics, so her parents were not immediately alarmed. But when she lost 1 kilogram (2 lb) in less than a week, they took her to the hospital.
Within 10 days of showing the first signs of illness, Abby suffered kidney failure and brain damage. She fell into a coma and died. Tests revealed that she had contracted E. coli, apparently when she had kissed her grandfather’s cheek while visiting him in rehab.
5 Julio Macias Gonzalez
In August 2016, 17-year-old Julio Macias Gonzalez was eating dinner with his family at their home in Iztapalapa, Mexico City, when he started convulsing. Paramedics were called to the scene. But in the end, Gonzalez was pronounced dead.
At the time of his death, Gonzalez had a hickey on his neck which had been given to him by his 24-year-old girlfriend. Hickeys form because the sucking creates enough pressure to burst blood vessels. Although this is usually harmless, it caused a blood clot to form in Gonzalez’s case. This traveled to his brain, which caused him to have a stroke and ultimately led to his death.
4 Somnath Mhatre
India has about 300 species of snake and probably millions of individual snakes slithering around. Understandably, many people who live there see snakes as pests no better than rats and simply kill them.
This has caused major conservation problems and has given rise to “snake rescuing,” the act of catching the snake and releasing it far away from humans. While this is admirable, it has inevitably caused some show-offs to seek a good selfie opportunity.
Somnath Mhatre was a 21-year-old man from Navi Mumbai and an avid snake rescuer. His Facebook profile was filled with pictures of him handling and posing with snakes. Unfortunately, he decided one day to pose for a photo of him kissing a cobra before releasing it.
As he lifted the snake to his face, the cobra lashed out and bit him. He was rushed to the hospital but died three days later. According to one Indian herpetologist, this is about the 30th recorded death of a snake rescuer in 12 years.
3 Mao Ansheng
Somewhat surprisingly, this is the only entry on this list where the killer kiss was actually intended to be a kiss of death. This occurred in China in 2007 when Xin Xinfeng killed her long-term partner, Mao Ansheng. The couple had previously agreed to an infidelity pact whereby they would be killed if either was caught cheating.
One day, Mao was seen talking to another woman. Whether he intended to cheat remains unknown, but seeing them speak was enough evidence for Xin. Before the two met up the next day, Xin wrapped rat poison in plastic, making a small pill which she placed under her tongue. Then, when they were kissing, she passed the pill into Mao’s mouth and he swallowed it without realizing.
Mao died soon afterward, and Xin was sentenced to death for the murder.
2 Dominique Wright
On October 30, 2016, Dominique Wright was out drinking with her boyfriend, Benjamin Hughes. After the couple missed the last bus, Benjamin decided to drop Dominique home in his van even though he had been drinking beer and shots that night.
As they were on the way, Dominique, who was not wearing a seat belt, leaned over and gave Benjamin a kiss. Unfortunately, this occurred as they approached a bend in the road. As Benjamin was distracted by the kiss, the van went into a ditch and collided with a tree.
Benjamin was able to make it out of the van, but Dominique died at the scene. Benjamin was found to be almost twice the legal drink-driving limit. Despite pleas for leniency from Dominique’s parents, he was sentenced to two years in prison and given a four-year driving ban.
As it turns out, kissing does not need to involve drugs or poison to be lethal. In fact, kiss-related deaths may be far more common than we realize. This is all thanks to members of the Triatominae subfamily, more commonly known as kissing bugs. These tiny insects like to bite humans around the mouth and then defecate in the wound. If they are carrying the Trypanosoma cruzi parasite, they can infect you with Chagas disease.
Chagas disease often goes unnoticed, and the bugs and parasite can be easily missed. Not only can people live for years without realizing that they’re infected, but medical professionals now believe that the majority of cases are overlooked.
The mortality rate for those with Chagas disease is up to three times the normal rate, and the risk of heart disease is 17 times greater. Not only are many cases never diagnosed at all, but less than half of people with Chagas disease have it listed on their death certificates. So its true impact could be seriously underestimated.