A marathon runner almost died after a poisoned chicken liver parfait he ate at an awards dinner gave him a rare nerve disease.
Philip Earlam spent seven weeks in hospital unable to move his limbs, speak, or even blink and feared he was ‘turning into a vegetable’.
The 47-year-old was one of 63 diners who contracted campylobacter after eating the starter dish at The Brewery conference centre in Chiswell Street, Barbican.
Philip Earlam, 47, (pictured with his son William) almost died after a poisoned chicken liver parfait he ate at an awards dinner gave him a rare nerve disease
He was attending the Digital Impact Awards with colleagues from Vodafone, where he is a service desk executive in Manchester, in October.
‘It was so frightening seeing parts of my body shut down and having no idea why it was happening or what could be done to stop it,’ he told the Evening Standard.
The father of a young boy sued external caterer Gather & Gather for negligence after the bacteria triggered Miller Fisher Syndrome.
The disease causes abnormal muscle coordination, paralysis of the eye muscles, and absence of the tendon reflexes and kills eight per cent of its victims.
He spent seven weeks in hospital unable to move his limbs, speak, or even blink and feared he was ‘turning into a vegetable’
The 47-year-old was one of 63 diners who contracted campylobacter after eating the starter dish at The Brewery conference centre in Chiswell Street, Barbican
Mr Earlam felt sick on his way home to Northwich, Cheshire, the morning after and went to hospital after he developed double vision – before his condition rapidly worsened.
‘Within the space of 24 hours I’d gone from planning on returning to work to being in intensive care, hooked up to various machines, and with the staff struggling to establish what was wrong with me,’ he said.
Miller Fisher Syndrome
Miller Fisher Syndrome is a rare, acquired nerve disease that is considered to be a variant of Guillain-Barré syndrome.
It is characterized by abnormal muscle coordination, paralysis of the eye muscles, and absence of the tendon reflexes.
Additional symptoms include generalized muscle weakness and respiratory failure.
The majority of individuals with Miller Fisher syndrome have a unique antibody that characterizes the disorder.
Patients are treated with intravenous immunoglobulin or plasmapheresis (a procedure in which antibodies are removed from the blood).
Those who survive are usually recovered by six months but may have residual deficits.
Source: National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
‘My condition deteriorated on an hourly basis… It just felt like I was silently slipping away.’
After a week in intensive care at Leighton Hospital, Crewe, he was transferred to a neurological ward at Royal Stoke Hospital.
Mr Earlam ran 140 miles in five days for charity five years ago, but now doctors are still trying to assess the long-term health impacts as lawyers work out how much to claim.
Public Health England investigated the outbreak and found campylobacter in samples from the victims and a the chicken liver parfait they ate.
Leigh Day law firm, which represents Mr Earlam, is also investigating another outbreak from Gather & Gather food at the same venue on September 29.
Mitie, owner of Gather & Gather, said The Brewery took its catering back in house since the incidents, and it was fully cooperating with Public Health’s investigation.
‘We have been liaising with affected individuals that we are currently aware of, and will continue to do so,’ it said.