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E. coli ’caused Egypt hotel couple’s deaths’

John and Susan CooperImage copyright Facebook
Image caption John and Susan Cooper died while staying at the Steigenberger Aqua Magic hotel in Hurghada

E. coli caused the death of a British couple who died after falling ill at a holiday resort in Egypt, Egyptian authorities have said.

John Cooper, 69, and his wife Susan, 63, from Burnley, Lancashire, died in Hurghada on 21 August.

In an official statement, the Egyptian general prosecutor said post-mortem examinations showed E. coli bacteria was a factor in both deaths.

But the couple’s daughter called the report “absolute rubbish”.

Kelly Ormerod, who was at the Steigenberger Aqua Magic hotel with her parents, told the BBC she did not believe the symptoms her parents showed were consistent with E. coli infection.

She added further post-mortem examinations of her parents’ bodies would be carried out in the UK, on direction from the Home Office.

According the Egyptian general prosecutor’s statement, tests showed Mr Cooper suffered acute intestinal dysentery caused by E.coli, and Mrs Cooper suffered a complication linked to infection, likely to have been caused by E. coli.

He said the bodies showed “no criminal violence”.

How dangerous is E. coli?

By Philippa Roxby, BBC Health reporter

This strain of E. coli must have been very toxic to have caused the couple’s deaths so quickly.

E. coli is a type of bacteria present in the gut of humans and animals.

Most strains are harmless – but some can cause cramps and diarrhoea, and others severe illness if damaging toxins are produced.

Prof Brendan Wren, from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine says they were “very unlucky because these strains are very rare”.

But E. coli has killed before, often after people have consumed contaminated food, such as meat, bean sprouts or salad leaves.

In these rare cases, the effects can be particularly nasty and the toxins can have an immediate effect.

The internal organs, like the liver and kidneys, are affected and simply start to shut down.

Travel firm Thomas Cook said it noted the statement from the prosecutor and said it would continue to support the Coopers’ daughter and the rest of their family.

“We have not yet seen the full report and we will need time for our own experts to review it,” a spokesman said.

Image copyright Deutsche Hospitality
Image caption The couple fell ill at the Aqua Magic resort last month

Last week, hygiene tests at the hotel where the couple had been staying found high levels of E. coli.

Earlier a report in The Times claimed that the room next door in the hotel where the couple had stayed had been fumigated.

But the head of the firm that carried out the work, Namaa Services, denied any wrongdoing and said it used authorised concentrations of chemicals.

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