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Inquest hears food not a cause of Polish man’s sudden death


Anton McNulty

A father of two who died from multi organ failure as a result of meningococcal sepsis did not obtain the bacterial infection from food or drink, his inquest heard.
Ireneusz Data (40) of 12 Riverside Drive, Quay Road, Ballina, died in Mayo University Hospital on February 5, 2017, after suddenly becoming ill. The postmortem into his death found he died as a result of multi organ failure, as a result of disseminated intravascular coagulation. The cause of this was meningococcal sepsis.
His wife, Monika, told his inquest, which took place in Castlebar, that he woke up on the morning of February 5 with pains in his legs and had a high temperature. He became ill and began vomiting. When he was brought to Westdoc, the GP Dr Joe Gilvarry told her it was the first time he had seen anything like that.
An ambulance was called and Mr Data was rushed to hospital, but despite treatment, he went into cardiac arrest and was pronounced dead at 7.33pm.
Dr Linda Mulligan, deputy State Pathologist, explained that Mr Data’s symptoms were not normally associated with meningitis, as he did not suffer from headaches or an infection to the brain. Instead his bowel was inflamed.
The inquest heard that the night before his death the father of two had consumed soup and Polish sausages, but Dr Mulligan ruled out the possibility of him obtaining the bacteria from food.
“Meningococcal C is not commonly found in food stuffs. It is an infection acquired in the community from other people, and being exposed to people already with the infection. It is a bacteria that lives within our own bodies, and sometimes if a person is run down or susceptible to infections, it may flare up. It isn’t usually found in food or in food poisoning,” she explained.
In good health
The inquest heard Mr Data was a fit man who was in good health prior to him suddenly getting ill. Dr Mulligan explained that the nature of these bacterial infections is that they are very rapid and it is very difficult to pinpoint how Mr Data contracted the infection.
“You would have to go back to see who he was in contact with a couple of weeks prior to his manifesting and if they had symptoms. Other than that there was no real way to tell, unfortunately. He may have been just more susceptible to the infection than the rest of his family,” she explained.
Dr Tomas Nemeth, consultant pathologist at Mayo University Hospital, performed the initial post-mortem. He explained that human beings’ bodies are the only place where meningococcal bacteria can live, and that only a small fraction of people who are exposed to it fall ill. The illness occurs when the bacteria break through the protective lining of the nose and throat and enter the bloodstream.
Mr Data’s neighbour and friend, Bart Igielski told the inquest that the deceased man and his wife had been at his house the night before, and that they had food and drank some vodka. He said they had been laughing and joking, and that Mr Data had not complained of any pain.
David Tighe, the paramedic who transported Mr Data to hospital, said it was clear his condition was life threatening, as his blood was black in colour and he was in ‘peripheral shut-down’.
Dr Muhammad Sajjad Sadiq, who treated Mr Data in hospital, said he arrived in the emergency department at 6.15pm and went into cardiac arrest at 6.48pm. He said the source of the sepsis was unknown.
Mr Patrick O’Connor, coroner for Mayo, said there had been a thorough investigation into the death of Mr Data and that it was unfortunate for him that he met someone with the infection. He recorded a verdict of death from natural causes, and expressed sympathy to  Mr Data’s wife and two children.

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