What Is Gastroenteritis? Mother Dies After Eating a Few Mouthfuls of Chicken on Vacation

A mother has died on vacation after she after she ate uncooked chicken, a court has heard.

Natalie Rawnsley, 37, was visiting the Greek island of Corfu with her husband and two children when she contracted a form of food poisoning called gastroenteritis. The family had visited a hotel restaurant, a hearing into her death was told according to The Hertfordshire Mercury.

The coroner found Natalie, a fit and healthy amateur triathlete, died due to the accidental consumption of the E-coli bacteria.

While her husband Stewart Rawnsley and their children picked pasta, bread and sausages from the buffet, Natalie chose chicken, salad, prawns and vegetables. As she ate the chicken, it bled a little so she replaced it with another piece. She then ate a few mouthfuls of the second piece.

Natalie Rawnsley, a fit amateur triathlete, died while on holiday in Greece after eating chicken. Getty Images

By 3 a.m. that night, she was vomiting in the hotel bathroom. Within 36 hours, her condition had dramatically worsened. Rawnsley died after clots formed in blood vessels across her body.

Her husband Stewart Rawnsley said his wife lay in a hospital bed bleeding from every orifice before she died.

Gastroenteritis is a common condition that can be caused by a bacterial or viral infection, such as E-coli. It triggers symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting, nausea and a fever, which come on suddenly. These symptoms generally pass within a week.

Anyone can develop gastroenteritis, but young children and older adults with weak immune systems are most likely to be affected. Those who are in close contact with others, for instance students living in college dorms or schoolchildren, are also at risk.

There is no specific treatment for gastroenteritis, and the illness must be left to run its course. However, medical attention must be sought if a sufferer develops symptoms of severe dehydration such as dizziness; has blood diarrhea; is unable to keep down fluids; or has a fever of over 100F.

Read more: Salmonella recalls: What are poisoning symptoms and how does food get contaminated?

The bugs that cause the condition are spread easily from person to person, or when someone eats contaminated food. This can occur when a person doesn't wash their hands after before preparing food, or if produce isn't stored properly.

Individuals with gastroenteritis are most contagious when their symptoms start to show, and until 48 hours after they have passed.

Professor Sebastien Lucas, an infections expert, told The Hertfordshire Mercury gastroenteritis can be fatal in those with certain genes that put the body at a higher risk of developing disseminated intravascular coagulation, where the blood clots throughout the body.