Woman left in coma after contracting rare form of food poisoning

A young teacher who moved from New Zealand to work in the tropical Cook Islands has been diagnosed with a rare food poisoning that has left her fighting for life.

Grace Archer was flown to Auckland on May 8 after becoming critically ill with listeria. Her partner and fellow teacher Theo Warrick was put on an emergency flight two days later to be by her side.

It is understood the primary school teacher contracted listeria meningitis which has led to Encephalitis, which hasn’t been seen on the island in 10 years, and is now on life support at Auckland Hospital.

According to the Cook Island News, public health officials in Rarotonga, where Ms Archer lived, have been interviewing locals to find out how she might have caught the bacterial illness.

“Listeriosis usually causes few or no symptoms for most people, but can be serious for pregnant women, newborn babies, seniors, and people with weakened immune systems,” the ministry said, noting they were on the look out for anyone else who may present symptoms including fever, chills, muscle aches, nausea and diarrhoea.

The illness is normally linked to foods such as unpasteurised milk and cheese, as well as some seafood and processed meats such as salami.

Ms Archer’s family friend, Petra Donnison, launched a Give a Little fundraising campaign to support any ongoing recovery and rehabilitation costs.

“This is all about Grace. If we can support her family so that they in turn can support her … you as donors can make that happen,” the page read.

It is understood Ms Archer taught both year 3 and 4, but had been unwell for several weeks prior to the illness diagnosis.

The Cook Islands received a record number of tourists last year, when the country welcomed 168,760 visitors. The Cook Islands News reported visitor numbers increased by 4.4 per cent in 2018 over the previous year. Nine per cent of the total were Cook Islanders living in Australia and New Zealand.

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