Kent

Patient infected by listeria sandwich 'lucky to be alive'

Tanya Marston
Image caption Tanya Marston was told she was infected with the same strain that killed three people

A woman infected with a potentially fatal strain of listeria by a hospital sandwich says she is lucky to be alive.

Tanya Marston, 38, was being treated for Crohn's disease when she ate a contaminated sandwich at the William Harvey Hospital in Ashford, Kent.

Three patients have died in the outbreak, linked to The Good Food Chain salads and pre-packed sandwiches.

The hospital trust apologised to Ms Marston for the "additional stress and discomfort" she suffered.

Ms Marston said she was due to be discharged from a four-week hospital stay last month when her temperature "spiked".

Medics took blood samples and she was later called back into hospital and given intravenous anti-biotics after tests showed she was infected.

'I could have died'

She said she "counts herself very lucky" her elevated temperature led to the infection being diagnosed.

"I'm really grateful that they took the blood cultures," she said.

"If that hadn't been done, I could be one of these people that has died."

She added: "There is a duty of care there and I'm wondering what opportunities may have been missed to get to the point where people are poisoned by the food that hospitals are giving them."

A letter from Dr Paul Stevens, medical director at East Kent Hospitals University trust, to Ms Marston said it was "most likely that you acquired the bug from sandwiches given to you by the hospital".

Public Health England (PHE) said six patients had been affected by the outbreak. Two patients at the Manchester Royal Infirmary and one at Aintree Hospital have died.

PHE said infections in healthy people usually go unnoticed or cause mild illness, but can have more serious impacts in people with pre-existing health problems or pregnant women.

Image caption The NHS trust apologised for the "additional stress and discomfort"

North Country Cooked Meats, which supplied the Good Food Chain, subsequently produced a positive test result for the outbreak strain of listeria, PHE said.

This business and North Country Quality Foods, which it distributes through, have voluntarily ceased production.

The Good Food Chain Ltd said the company's production facility in Stone, Staffordshire, was "cross contaminated by an ingredient from one of its approved meat suppliers".

A spokesman for North Country Cooked Meats said it was "currently co-operating fully with the environmental health and the Food Standards Agency in their investigations".

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