2006-12-20 15:37:16 UTC
is, and why it has now beome absolutely essential for the State Veterinary
Service's Chief Veterinary Officer to make a prompt and frank public
If they claim it has nothing to do with pigs and PMWS, let's hear it.
Midwife killed by superbug
By Claire Lomax
A Bradford pensioner has revealed how her community midwife daughter died of
a rare and deadly superbug at the centre of a new national scare.
Catherine Chadwick, 47, died only 48 hours after being admitted to Airedale
Hospital, in Steeton, with the mysterious infection which has killed two
people in a new outbreak at a hospital in Stoke.
A post-mortem examination requested by her family has now revealed it was
Panton-Valentine Leukocidin (PVL), a strain of MRSA which attacks white
blood cells leaving patients unable to fight infection.
The cause of Mrs Chadwick's death was disclosed by her mother Vera Ward, 78,
of Ashbourne Oval, Bradford, as the Health Protection Agency (HPA) warned of
an outbreak of PVL at the Stoke hospital - the first known instance in this
country of people being infected by it within a hospital setting.
The HPA said 33-year-old health care worker Maribel Espaba died in September
at the University Hospital of North Staffordshire after being infected with
a strain of PVL-producing MRSA.
An investigation then found that seven other people, including a patient who
also died, had contracted the same strain.
A spokesman for the HPA said: "PVL-producing strains of MRSA have been seen
in the UK before - however, the small numbers of cases reported have usually
been in the community rather than a hospital setting.
"This outbreak is the first time transmission and deaths due to this strain
are known to have occurred in a health care setting in England and Wales."
The PVL strain is unusual because it can affect young and otherwise healthy
Thirteen cases were recorded in the community in 2005 and there have been
five deaths linked to PVL in the UK over the last two years, although these
figures could be higher as reporting of cases is not mandatory.
The infection normally causes pus-producing skin infections, such as
abscesses or boils, but it can trigger more severe invasive infections such
as septic arthritis, blood poisoning or a form of pneumonia, as in the case
of Mrs Chadwick.
Mrs Chadwick, of Regent Road, Skipton, worked as a community midwife in
Airedale, although she had not worked for a week prior to her death.
And only the weekend before she died on April 11 she had led a charity walk
to scale Whernside in the Yorkshire Dales.
Mrs Ward, a retired maths teacher, said doctors at Airedale Hospital did not
require a post-mortem examination to be carried out but Mrs Chadwick's
husband Philip, 48, of Skipton, requested one as he wanted to know what
killed his wife of 25-years.
Mrs Ward said: "I was glad and the consultants said they wanted to know why
they had not been able to save her."
The post-mortem examination revealed the cause of death to be PVL, which had
attacked Mrs Chadwick's lungs, causing pneumonia.
The infection had taken hold so fast it killed her a day after she visited
her GP complaining of feeling unwell.
"We had never heard of it before - we were shocked," said Mrs Ward. "We
don't know how she acquired the infection - that element is still a mystery.
"The coverage I saw on TV said what we already knew, that this thing is
"A lot of people carry it on their skin without knowing and it does them no
harm but if there is a break in the skin it can get through.
"But Catherine, as far as we knew, did not have anything like that. She was
fit and healthy and at 47 you do not expect to die like that.
"They said on the TV it can produce flu-like symptoms and she did spend some
time in bed during the week, but had got up to look after her family and go
to a party with some friends."
Mrs Ward was shocked to see her daughter's condition when she visited her on
the day of her admission to hospital.
"She was in a single room in Airedale and she looked about 90 - she looked
terrible. She was struggling to talk and the last thing she said was I just
want to get better'."
At 6am the next day Mr Chadwick received a call from the hospital asking him
to come in and his wife died later that afternoon surrounded by her family,
including sons Stuart, 19, and Timothy, 16 and her three sisters Pamela, who
is a GP, Susan, and Elizabeth, who is a sister on the chemotherapy ward at
Bradford Royal Infirmary.
"I am not in anyway criticising any of Catherine's treatment," said Mrs
Ward. "It was top-notch but we hope it does not happen to anyone else.
"It needs everyone in the medical profession to wake up to this thing. If
they suspect someone has this infection they should treat them first without
waiting for the cultures to come through.
"That is the only thing they could do now that it is getting more
John Sutcliffe, corporate affairs manager for Airedale Hospital NHS Trust
said: "On behalf of all of the staff at Airedale NHS Trust, I would like to
offer our sincere sympathies to Catherine's family.
"This was not a hospital-acquired infection, and was in no way connected to
Catherine's work in the Health Service.
"We would like to reassure patients and the public that the Trust has robust
infection control procedures in place to manage the spread of infections.
"PVL is a very rare staphylococcal infection. It is a toxin producing strain
of a staphylococcal infection which carries a high mortality rate.
"There are only a small number of cases reported every year throughout the
UK. Indeed, only two cases have been reported (including this one) at
Airedale General Hospital in the last 18 years.
"In this case an infection was identified and the most appropriate treatment
Mrs Chadwick's family now face their first Christmas without her.
"She has left a hole nothing can fill," said Mrs Ward. "It is Christmas all
the time where she is - that is the only thing that comforts me but I still
wish she was here to enjoy Christmas with us."