Caitlin Edwards was perfectly healthy when she went swimming in the sea in Pembrokeshire, south-west Wales, in August last year. Later, the 22-year-old met her boyfriend and suddenly got stomach cramps and diarrhea. Five days later, she went to the emergency room of a hospital, where E. coli bacteria were discovered in her body and she was eventually diagnosed with the life-threatening Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS). The kidney vessels are attacked and there is a risk of acute kidney failure. In addition, red blood cells and platelets are destroyed, further weakening the body.

According to the “Wales Online” portal, which has now reported on the incident, Caitlin’s mother was not directly informed that her daughter was suffering. Instead, she was already in the resuscitation department at the time. It must have been a nightmare for the family. Because at first she didn’t know that the young woman “wouldn’t die”.

“She had gone from being a happy, healthy, vibrant 22-year-old to a woman who looked like she was going to die,” Caitlin’s mother told Wales Online of her daughter. Caitlin ended up on dialysis and receiving blood transfusions. Although she survived the dangerous illness, it took her five months to recover.

But why was the student so seriously ill after swimming in the sea? At the time of her visit to the sea, there had been a storm off the coast, with rainwater being discharged into the sea, according to media reports. However, the Wales Board of Health thought it most likely that untreated sewage was the cause of Caitlin’s serious illness. Because harmful bacteria were found in their intestines.

The local water company denied responsibility, stating that the water discharged came from a private source and that it had nothing to do with it. According to Natural Resources Wales, which deals with the management of natural resources, the spill was due to a disturbance at a private discharge point. The owners acted immediately after the incident became known and no further problems have been identified since then.

Sources: Wales Online, BBC, Munich Clinic