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Why you could be prone to fatal E.coli food poisoning bug and have no clue – after Brit couple die in Egypt

FOOD poisoning is more likely to kill some people than others – and it's got nothing to do with what they ate.

John Cooper and his wife Susan who died on holiday in Egypt were killed by e. Coli, it has been revealed today.

Refer to Caption John Cooper and his wife Susan were killed by e. Coli, it has been revealed

The Brit couple lost their lives within hours of each other at Aqua Magic hotel in the Red Sea resort town of Hurghada last month.

A public prosecutor in Egypt today confirmed the common food poisoning bacteria was a factor in their death.

The couple, from Burnley, Lancs, died within hours of each other.

An inspection of the couple's hotel room revealed there were no toxic or harmful gas emissions or leaks but prosecutor Nabil Sadek said forensic tests showed John, 69, suffered acute intestinal dysentery caused by E.coli.

Enterprise News and Pictures John and Susan Cooper lost their lives within hours of each other at Aqua Magic hotel in the Red Sea resort town of Hurghada last month

Susan, 64, had suffered Hemolytic-uremic syndrome (HUS), likely because of E.coli.

Their deaths were initially recorded as being down to heart and respiratory failure.

Experts analysing food and hygiene standards at the resort have identified a high level of E-coli and staphylococcus bacteria.

In a separate case in July super-fit mum Natalie Rawnsley, 37, died after taking "one bite" of bloody chicken at a Corfu hotel.

Mum-of-two Natalie Rawnsley died after taking 'one bite' of raw chicken while on holiday with her family in Greece

She was on a family holiday with her husband and two boys when she was suddenly struck down with chronic food poisoning.

An inquest heard how the triathlete started to eat a portion of chicken from a restaurant buffet when she cut into the meat and it oozed blood.

Natalie, of Harpenden, Herts., swapped the uncooked chicken for a different piece before she started to feel unwell later that evening.

Her condition rapidly worsened in just 36 hours and was rushed to hospital where she was diagnosed with gastroenteritis – a common tummy bug that causes vomiting and diarrhoea.
Natalie swapped the chicken for a cooked piece but within 36-hours her condition deteriorated rapidly

She eventually died after blood clots formed all over her body, blocking the blood vessels.

The inquest heard that Natalie, who was otherwise fit and healthy, probably became so seriously ill from food poisoning because of her genes.

Infections expert Professor Sebastien Lucas said: “It depends on what your genes are. It seems like Mrs Rawsley had the wrong genes – to put it crudely.

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

Facebook Natalie eventually died after blood clots formed all over her body, blocking the blood vessels

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

"There's a tipping point when it starts producing DIC (a condition that causes blood clots to form all over the body). 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."

So how does a case of food poisoning turn deadly?

Arguably, whenever we become ill we are at risk of more serious complications because our immune system is compromised; but food poisoning is very rarely serious.

Facebook An inquest heard Natalie was diagnosed with gastroenteritis

In most cases the unpleasant symptoms, which include vomiting, diarrhoea and tummy pain, only last a few days.

But research published in the Journal of Infectious Diseases in 2016 found resistance to one of the most common food poisoning bugs, E.coli, may come down to your genes.

Experts from Duke University exposed 30 healthy adults to E.coli to determine why some people get sick and others stay healthy.

Six of the patients began to show severe symptoms while another six showed no symptoms at all.

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Lead author Dr Ephraim Tsalik, assistant professor of medicine at the university noted significant differences in as many as 29 immune-related genes between those who were sick and those who were well.

"We found there were differences with the subjects that seemed to predict who would become sick," Dr Tsalik said.

"We interpreted those as signals that show an innate resistance to infection.

"There may be certain genetic traits that can increase or decrease your chances of being infected after exposure to a pathogen.

Getty – Contributor Some people are at greater risk of becoming seriously ill when exposed to bacteria like E.coli because of their genes

"We have found a set of immune-related genes to focus on. Now if we can understand how the expression of these genes imparts this resistance and susceptibility, we might be able to offer new ways to boost your immune system to protect against prevalent infections such as E.coli or better predict who is at greatest risk of getting an infection."

Dr Tsalik, who has three children, admitted when someone in his household gets sick he tends to avoid the bug while his wife becomes very unwell.

"Our whole household gets exposed. I tend not to get sick and if I do, it's pretty mild and might last a day," he said.

"Meanwhile, my wife gets one cold after another.

"We're discovering that among the factors that play a role in your resistance to infection – including the environment, stress levels, and gut bacteria – there is likely to be an innate biological explanation, too."

What can you do if you are at a greater genetic risk of becoming seriously ill with food poisoning?

Unfortunately, for now, there isn't a test to determine if you are at greater risk based on your DNA, so the best thing you can do is protect yourself against any food poisoning risks.

Always make sure you wash your hands after preparing raw meat, always prepare raw meat on its own chopping board, store food in airtight containers in the fridge or freezer, wipe down surfaces with an antibacterial spray after use, regularly replace wash clothes in the kitchen and always make sure food is cooked properly before eating it.

Following these simple steps can help protect you and your family from food poisoning.


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