Carbon monoxide ‘can mimic’ signs of flu

Deadly carbon monoxide gases can mimic bugs such as the common cold or flu, a pathologist said yesterday.

Margot Bolster, the assistant State pathologist, said her conclusions were that a woman at a hen party in Kinsale, Co Cork, had died as a result of carbon monoxide poisoning at the town’s Trident Hotel.

She said exposure to carbon monoxide was particularly dangerous as the first symptoms were like a cold or flu.

She testified at Cork Circuit Criminal Court that Miriam Reidy, aged 35, died from acute carbon monoxide poisoning.

Plumber Richard Davis is on trial for manslaughter and related health and safety offences. He and his company deny all charges.

Dr Bolster said tests indicated the Limerick-born bank worker had a carbon monoxide blood-saturation level of 57%. Levels of 50% and over, she said, can cause unconsciousness, collapse, convulsions, coma, and death. Levels of 10% to 30% can cause headaches, dizziness, and fatigue.

Dr Bolster said carbon monoxide exposure “can mimic other illnesses such as a flu or a cold”.

Ms Reidy was pronoun-ced dead at the scene by Kinsale GP Helen Barry.

Mr Davis, aged 44, from Serenity, Killanully, Ballygarvan, Co Cork, is on trial for manslaughter of Ms Reidy and two breaches of the Safety, Health, and Welfare at Work Act 2005.

His company, Davis Heating and Plumbing Contractors, of Marina Commercial Park in Cork, is charged with two similar breaches of the Act relating to the conversion of a gas boiler at the Trident on January 4, 2011, to which pleas of not guilty were also entered.

Patricia Reidy-Russell, sister of the late Miriam Reidy, gave evidence earlier of what happened at the Trident, in the room she shared with her sister: “I believe she had gone to the bathroom and she stumbled and fell at the end of the bed. She looked dazed, not herself. I noticed my legs were weak. Something was not right. She was a dead weight trying to lift her up. I got an overwhelming feeling something was not right. I got her on to the bed.

“It was then I noticed she had been sick on the bed. She said: ‘Oh I got sick.’ I said: ‘Don’t worry about that, come over to my side of the bed, we will try to get some sleep.’ It was going through my head, were our drinks spiked?”

The trial continues.


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