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Residents with food poisoning died naturally

By Jo Deeks on Thursday, 28th February 2002.

Two elderly residents of a Haverhill residential home who both had salmonella food poisoning died of natural causes, an inquest has ruled.

Dora Levene, 92 and Evelyn Carter, 89, were both residents of the Swallows Residential Homes at Helions Bumpstead Road, and died within a week of each other.

At an inquest in Bury St Edmunds conducted by coroner Dr Peter Dean on Tuesday,a jury returned a unanimious verdict of death by natural causes, brought on by infection by from salmonella.

Dr Dean said both women has serious underlying heart conditions, which was why their deaths has been brough on in this way.

“These things can happen sporadically and if people are vulnerable there is very little else that can be done. We have heard nothing to suggest anything could have changed the outcomes,” Dr Dean said.

The inquest heard that Mrs Levene had become ill on June 25 last year with diarrhoea, and had been seen by two doctors.

Her family were not contacted until her condition deteriorated on June 28 and she died the next day.

Mrs Carter became ill on July 1 and was taken to hospital where she died on July 7.

An initial post mortem examination report on Mrs Levene gave a cause of death of chronic heart disease, but after samples were returned from analysis that was amended to include salmonella as a contributory factor in both deaths.

Pathologist Sue Deen said both women had severe furring up of their arteries, making them vulnerable so that almost any disturbance or shock could have caused their death.

Although salmonella had been a “trigger factor” it had not been the primary cause of deaths, she said.

Joy Hopkins, proprietor of The Swallows, told the inquest Mrs Levene had not given too much cause for concern at first, but her condition had rapidly deteriorated.

Gillian Brown, infection control nurse, said she had visited the home and although she had made some recommendations about keeping written policy documents, there were no major problems.

Julie Lynch, environmental health officer at St Edmundsbury Borough Council, said staff and residents at the home had been screened.

One other resident had salmonella in her samples, but had not been ill, and two other members of staff also tested positive. In nine out of ten cases it was never know how salmonella was contracted.

After the inquest Gillian Klingle, Mrs Levene’s daughter said:” It is sad I was not told of her illness until the day before she died, I found it hard that I had not been with her sooner.

Haverhill Weekly News

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