Mary Berry: The baker’s childhood illness that left mark on her left hand – symptoms

The One Show: Mary Berry recalls becoming a dame

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Mary Berry, 85, suffered from polio when she was 13-years-old. Polio is a serious viral disease that is nowadays prevented with vaccination. It used to be common in the UK and Mary was one of those who fell victim to it in 1948. The baker and cook is still affected by the aftermath of polio today as it left her with a “funny left hand”.

In 1948, the former Bake Off’s judge got separated from her parents by a glass partition when she contracted the infection.

Mary had to spend three months in the hospital, battling polio.

The life-threatening disease left her an unwanted souvenir on her left hand.

The condition only affected the left side of her body, causing her hand to become weaker.

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Polio doesn’t cause symptoms in most people, but in some cases it can leave the patients temporarily or permanently paralysed, the NHS reports.

That’s why this infection can be life-threatening.

It used to be common in the UK and worldwide, but nowadays preventative measures like vaccines offer protection.

The jab against the viral disease is offered routinely as a part of the NHS childhood vaccination programme.

Mary’s “funny hand” caused by the childhood disease still impacts certain aspects of her cooking today.

Television fans often mistake the reason behind her weaker hand for arthritis – a common condition leading to pain and inflammation in joints.

In a Radio Times interview earlier this year, the cookbook author spoke about her diagnosis and battle with polio.

She said: “Everybody thinks I’ve got arthritis. I look a bit funny when I’m rolling pastry, but I have no other difficulties whatsoever.”

Even though she describes herself as “funny” when rolling pastry, with numerous cooking shows and baking books behind her, she remains a skilled cook and baker.

“I was immensely fortunate. I only had it on my left side, and I’ve got a funny left hand,” she said during the Radio Times Interview.

As someone who battled polio, she encourages everyone eligible to take the vaccine.

“If you’re in a hospital like I was, with people in callipers, people in pain, people who weren’t going to get better – I think that everyone should take the vaccine, and think of others,” she added.

Although most people don’t experience symptoms of polio, here are some to be aware of according to the NHS:

  • High temperature of 38C or above
  • Sore throat
  • Headache
  • Abdominal pain
  • Aching muscles
  • Feeling and being sick.

You can become sick from the viral droplets of the infection in the air or if you come into contact with the poo of someone with the infection, the NHS reports.

Polio treatment is aimed at supporting bodily functions and lowering the risk of long-term problems, while the body is fighting off the disease.

However, the viral infection doesn’t pose such a great risk in the UK nowadays because of vaccination.

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