Dr Laskai said that ‘gas gangrene’ can be contracted through contact with soil or animal faeces.
He said: “It is a very serious and very dangerous infection.”
Under questioning from grand-mother of four, Mrs Whelan, Dr Laskai was unable to state how exactly Mr Whelan contracted the bug or how long it was in his system.
Mrs Whelan told the inquest: “The dangers of this form of sepsis getting into the system should be highlighted more for farmers because this was a perfectly healthy man doing his work five minutes before this.”
Speaking outside the inquest after a jury had returned a verdict in accordance with the medical evidence, Mrs Whelan said that the family weren’t able to see Tom’s body after he died and weren’t able to have an open coffin at his funeral because of the aggressive nature of the bug.
Mrs Whelan said: “The body deteriorated immediately with this bacteria.”
Mrs Whelan stated that farmers Tom’s age wouldn’t be the best around hygiene saying that he had farmed for around 60 years.
A beef and suckler farmer, Mr Whelan was well known in Clare farming circles and Mrs Whelan said: “Tom should have been immune to every kind of a germ - he was doing this all this life. The younger farmers wear gloves, the older farmers don’t.”
Mrs Whelan said that Tom had no wound on his skin unless he got the gas gangrene from the scratch of a briar. She said: “We’ll never know now anyway.”
Mrs Whelan said that Tom got a kick of a bull two to three weeks before his death and asked at the inquest was this how her husband contracted the bug.
Dr Laskai said that was possible but stated that gas gangrene’ usually acts quicker than that.
Mrs Whelan said that the family were “absolutely stunned” to get the results of the post mortem in December which showed that Tom died from the rare form of sepsis.
She said: “We couldn’t get over it. We thought it might have been a brain haemorrhage or something like that. Tom had no notion of dying. He worked every day farming."
At the inquest, Garda John Cahill said that he arrived at the crash scene and in his deposition, he said that Mr Whelan was not in favour of going to the GP.
Garda Cahill said Mr Whelan was lying up against the side of his land cruiser and was more concerned getting jeep back out of dyke, that he had stock to check and said that he would rest later in the day.
Garda Cahill said that Mr Whelan wasn’t able to explain how the jeep ended up in the ditch.
One of Mr Whelan’s three sons, Diarmuid arrived at the scene and said that he was relieved to see there was minimal damage from the car accident.
He said: “His colour was fairly pale and I put that down to the shock of the accident. His only concern about getting the jeep out of the dyke and I told him not to be worrying about that.”
Mrs Whelan also stated that the post mortem found that all of her husband’s arteries were blocked.
She said: “Maybe with what happened he was spared from something far worse - he might have got a serious stroke.”