A Salmonella infection contributed to the deaths of two people who were part of an outbreak in England in 2018, according to an inquest report.

Sandra Blake, 68, and Stewart Graham, 66, both ate pork from Chapman and Sons in early 2018. Sandra’s husband, Heath, aged 71, also fell ill with similar symptoms but survived. Tests confirmed all three had Salmonella infections.

The inquest heard that 28 people were affected and 23 were linked to the butchers in Blackhall Colliery, County Durham.

The jury inquest at Teesside Magistrates’ Court was told pork from the shop was contaminated with the same strain as was detected in sick people. Karin Welsh, assistant coroner, said Blake and Graham, who had other health issues, died of natural cases with Salmonella as a contributing factor.

A pre-inquest review hearing into the deaths took place in December 2019.

Personal impact
Heath and Sandra Blake began feeling unwell in February 2018 with symptoms including sickness and diarrhea. Sandra was visited at home by a GP and was admitted to North Tees Hospital in mid-February. She died two weeks later.

Speaking before the inquest, Heath said: “We all continue to miss Sandra and struggle to accept that’s she no longer part of our lives. Not only was she a wonderful wife and my best friend but she was also an amazing mum and grandmother.”

Stewart Graham, a father of five, was a former coach at Sunderland Football Club. He was found dead at home on Feb. 21, 2018.

His daughter, Paula Conway, said: “When Dad started feeling unwell everyone thought it would pass in a few days and he would start getting back to normal in a week or so. That he didn’t is still a huge shock to us. Nothing was ever too much trouble for Dad and he was always happy to help, not only his family but also help many children through his football coaching.”

In 2018, the company closed and criminal charges against the business and its directors were dropped in 2019 because of problems sampling the products.

The families of Sandra and Stewart asked public health lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate.

Jatinder Paul, senior associate solicitor, said there was large concern in the area because of the confirmed cases of Salmonella.

“It’s an incredibly dangerous condition, the effects of which should never be downplayed. While it’s only right that a thorough investigation was allowed to take place, the last few years and not knowing the full circumstances as to why Sandra and Stewart died has taken a huge toll on their loved ones,” Paul said.

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