'It attacked the nerves... I couldn’t breathe' - Warning over rise of deadly 'Brexit virus' from EU sausages
Cases of 'Brexit virus' are on the rise, a potentially deadly disease carried in sausages made with EU meat.
The strain of hepatitis E has been linked to pig farms on the Continent after the tropical virus mutated to infect livestock.
Public Health England reported the number of severe cases has almost trebled since 2010, with 1,244 reported in 2016 to 368 six years earlier.
The virus causes a flu-like illness and in severe circumstances, could cause death.
Experts predict around 10 per cent of pork imported from Europe could be infected with the 'Brexit virus', which is affecting more than 60,000 in Britain annually.
Humans can catch the disease by eating undercooked pork, sausages, pork pies and bacon.
One ingested, the virus is carried to the liver, where it attacks the liver and nerves, causing people with weakened immune systems to become seriously ill.
This strain has been linked to pig farms in France, Holland, Germany and Denmark and is only killed in meat if people cook it for longer than usual.
Most people who come into contact with the disease contract a nasty, flu-like cold.
However, some cases are severe and life-threatening, and pregnant women and transplant patients are particularly at risk.
According to the Times, Dr Harry Dalton, a gastroenterologist at Exeter University, told a conference on neurological infectious diseases HEV had become a major threat.
He said: "I call it the Brexit virus. It attacks the liver and nerves, with a peak in May. It is particularly dangerous for people with suppressed immune systems such as those who have had organ transplants and possibly cancer. The virus seems to come from Europe."
He said no one should eat 'pink' pork and that pregnant women and transplant patients should not eat pork at all.
People who eat pork should cook bacon until it is crispy and sausages for at least 20 minutes, as the virus is heat resistant and survives being cooked until the meat is heated to above 71C for two minutes.
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Roy Van Den Heuvel, who is a victim of the virus, told The Times of how it left him in intensive care after he ate salami.
He said: "It started out like flu, but my arms and shoulders became so painful I had to go to hospital. They put me straight in intensive care.
"The virus had attacked the nerves in my armpits and diaphragm. I couldn’t breathe properly.
"Doctors traced the strain to salami, probably from Holland. It is cured, not cooked, and the virus survives in the fatty bits."
The 61-year-old's diaphragm and shoulders are now permanently partially paralysed, and he can no longer work as a gardener.