British woman dies after two bites of raw chicken

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A fit and healthy British mother died while holidaying in Greece with her family after eating just “a few mouthfuls” of uncooked chicken, an inquest has heard.

Natalie Rawnsley was holidaying on the island of Corfu with husband Stewart and her two young sons when she was struck down with food poisoning.

Ms Rawnsley, a keen triathlete, died within 36 hours of her meal at the hotel where she and her family were staying.

“The hotel had two or three restaurants. It was a buffet or restaurant and we had all four of us eating together,” Mr Rawnsley told Westminster Coroners’ Court.

He added: “The set up Natalie and I had agreed was we took it in turns alternatively either to go up and get the kids food and our food while the other joined the longer queue for nicer food.

“I had both my boys with me, we had pasta, bread and sausages. Natalie had a completely different dinner which consisted of chicken, salad, prawns and vegetables.

“We were already at the table when Natalie came back with her food. Natalie started to eat hers and as she cut the chicken the chicken oozed red blood to which point I commented it looked bloody.

“She got up took it back replaced the chicken with a different piece and came back and ate it.

“She had had a few mouthfuls of the other piece of chicken.”

A doctor came early the next morning, diagnosing Ms Rawnsley – who had been vomiting since 3am – with gastroenteritis.

When Ms Rawnsley’s symptoms continued, she was admitted to the medical centre near the hotel. She was later moved to hospital – at which point, Mr Rawnsley said, his wife had “pain in her legs and also a number of red blotches all over her.”

Ms Rawnsley died in the early hours of the following morning.

The inquest heard that although Ms Rawnsley was a healthy stay-at-home mum, the probability of contracting the more serious illness from food poisoning depends entirely on your genes.

Infections expert Professor Sebastien Lucas said: “It depends on what your genes are.

“Assuming it is an E-Coli infection – coming from uncooked chicken seems a very reasonable theory.

“The point I also made in my report is how it escalates.

“There’s a tipping point when it starts producing DIC. By definition, once it starts doing that, you are doomed.

“It’s a very rapid process and so the chronology I heard from Mr Rawnsley fits to a ‘t’ with that view.”

Professor Lucas said little can be done once infection sets in, adding that Ms Rawnsley was the third person he had seen die under these circumstances so far this year.

Dr Athanasia Vargiamidou performed the post-mortem on Ms Rawnsley.

She said: “The blood was not able to clot properly, it clotted a lot and at the same time.”

The coroner recorded a verdict of death by the accidental consumption of E-Coli infected chicken.

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