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Wednesday, 22 October 2014

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POISON IN A PUDDING

By Kelly Eve, Ross Brewster, Phil Coleman and Pam McGowan

RELATIVES of a 71-year-old Keswick woman who remains in hospital following a major food poisoning outbreak have spoken of how they feared for her life.

The woman was among a family party of five who had decided to go out for Sunday lunch at Hundith Hill Hotel near Cockermouth on July 2.

Four fell ill – the woman, her two daughters and a male relative. A fifth escaped any symptoms.

The woman spent time in intensive care at the West Cumberland Hospital in Whitehaven but her condition has improved and her recovery continues.

The Hundith Hill Hotel is being investigated by officers at Allerdale Council’s environmental health unit, who are looking to confirm the cause and source of the salmonella outbreak.

Health chiefs say it is likely all the cases were linked to a Tiramisu dessert.

The sweet traditionally contains raw eggs. Today Allerdale Council said it was still looking to identify the ingredients and any suppliers.

When the News & Star contacted the hotel, a member of staff declined to comment.

Proprietors Phil and Joan Butterworth have not been available for comment.

Details of the outbreak were not released sooner because there was no risk to public health, investigation leaders said today.

One of the Keswick woman’s daughters told the News & Star: “It was frightening. My uncle was staying with her and they started feeling ill on the Sunday night, having to get up seven or eight times during the night.

“The doctor came and my mother was admitted to Keswick Cottage Hospital, then moved to Whitehaven because she had become so dehydrated.

“She was so ill she had not been able to drink enough water. She got weak very quickly and it’s just as well she was taken into hospital when she was, otherwise the consequences would have been much awful.”

She added: “Significantly, the one person who didn’t get ill also didn’t have the dessert.

“I was the one who suffered the least from it.

“I had severe cramps, but my mum has been in bed for two weeks and at one stage she was on a kidney machine in the intensive care unit, it was that serious.

“They are keeping her in hospital because her legs are still swollen.

“We are hoping she will be fit enough to come out later this week.”

The elderly woman is usually an active and independent woman, her daughter said.

Health chiefs say they have confirmed 10 cases of salmonella food poisoning in people who visited the popular West Cumbrian hotel two weeks ago.

One of those who became ill was a 98-year-old woman from Carlisle who died late last week, though the cause of her death has yet to be officially confirmed.

The Health Protection Agency has kept the coroner’s office in Carlisle informed of the situation. An inquest may be held into the woman’s death.

Dr Nigel Calvert, Cumbria’s consultant in communicable disease control, said colleagues had now interviewed some 38 people about the outbreak.

He said: “Things are pointing to the Tiramisu and it is a particular batch of it.

“We can confirm there is no ongoing risk. It was isolated.”

“We’ve had 10 confirmed cases back from the lab and there are another two or three that we’re waiting for results for.

“They were all identified the following day, the Monday. There have been no cases since. The outbreak is under control.”

Basic Tiramisu ingredients are Mascarpone cheese, raw eggs, sugar, espresso coffee, ladyfingers, liquor and cocoa. Cream is optional.

The family-run hotel near Cockermouth is renowned throughout Cumbria as one of the county’s leading wedding venues.

A favourite for couples, the hotel boasts one of the best backdrops – views of the Lorton Valley from its gardens - and can cater for up to 200 guests.

It is also a popular hotel for conferences and has car parking for over 100 vehicles.

On the hotel’s website, it states that proprietors Joan and Phil Butterworth have undertaken a major refurbishment of the hotel over the last eight years.

Work has included revamping the existing building and constructing new conference and function facilities.

The couple have won recognition in recent years for extending to create a series of ground-floor courtyard bedrooms for the disabled.

After the rivers Cocker and Derwent both burst their banks in January 2005, the hotel became a safe haven for elderly and infirm residents from the Victoria Court sheltered accommodation quarters in Cockermouth.

Hundith Hill Hotel is set in 14 acres and is a former 19th century country manor.

Mrs Butterworth and her parents, William and Mary Wallace, of Shatton Hall, decided to buy the hotel when it came on the market more than 20 years ago.

n Our website was first with news of the salmonella outbreak yesterday at 2.45pm. We posted news of the health scare has soon as it was revealed and included advice and information on salmonella.

Subscribers to our free email alerts also got the news sent direct to their desktops within minutes of the news breaking.

You can register for free email alerts by entering your email details on our home page.

KEve@cngroup.co.uk

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