Inquest hears of tragic illness

A TEENAGE schoolgirl struck down by a 'flu-like illness died when the infection spread to her heart.Doctors battle desperately to save 14-year-old Emma Barnett, of Thetford Road, Ixworth, near Bury St Edmunds, who only hours earlier had complained of classic 'flu symptoms of aches, a high temperature and nausea.

A TEENAGE schoolgirl struck down by a 'flu-like illness died when the infection spread to her heart.

Doctors battle desperately to save 14-year-old Emma Barnett, of Thetford Road, Ixworth, near Bury St Edmunds, who only hours earlier had complained of classic 'flu symptoms of aches, a high temperature and nausea.

But a Bury inquest heard they could do nothing to save her from the rare course the illness took.

The hearing was told it was an "extremely uncommon" reaction suffered by the schoolgirl in January this year which cost her her life.


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Greater Suffolk Coroner Dr Peter Dean said it was clear from the evidence that the cause of her death at Bury's West Suffolk Hospital had been due to natural causes.

He said a post mortem examination carried out by Dr Barry Cottrell found the cause of death was myocarditis – an inflammation of the heart. That condition, in turn, was caused by the viral infection Emma had developed in her respiratory tract.

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Dr Dean said: "It was a very, very tragic set of circumstances. She was seen at the earliest opportunity by her GP and given a thorough examination. At that time there seemed to be a minor respiratory infection but no signs of anything more sinister.

"Clearly what took place later was a full cardiac collapse. The cause of death was this rather uncommon complication of an upper respiratory infection."

Earlier, a statement from Emma's GP, Dr Nicholas Harpur was read out. He said he gave the teenager a full examination and considered she had a viral infection, prescribing paracetamol and penicillin.

Dr Harpur said he examined Emma, a Thurston Community College student, on his couch and found no problems with any of her internal organs.

He said he heard of Emma's death the next day and was shocked to learn of the tragedy.

After Emma's death, her father Jerry watched helplessly as his wife, Sylvia, and two of his daughters contracted the same 'flu-like illness which hours before had led to Emma's death.

Mrs Barnett and her daughters Hanna, 10, and eight-year-old Dana, were all treated at West Suffolk Hospital, where Mr Barnett kept a bedside vigil. The three members of the Barnett family struck down after Emma died all recovered.

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