A woman died days after being pricked by a rose thorn, an inquest was told yesterday.

Jeanne Harris, 61, pricked her left finger when pruning roses last June, her husband said in a statement to Cirencester magistrates' court.

Two days later her left elbow had swollen, and he took her to the doctor.

Mrs Harris, a part-time cleaner from South Cerney, Gloucestershire, vomited on the way there and was referred to Cirencester Hospital.

Her condition deteriorated and she was taken to Cheltenham General Hospital for surgery. She died six days after being pricked.

The coroner, who recorded a verdict of death by natural causes, said the death was due to septicaemia and necrotising fasciitis. He added that it could not be confirmed that the prick triggered the bacteria that killed Mrs Harris.

He said: "This is one of the most unusual cases I have ever had to deal with."

Professor Neil Shepherd, a consultant pathologist at Cheltenham General Hospital, said that he had noted the rare effects of necrotising fasciitis – the rapid dying of skin tissues – which, he said, could have been brought on by bacteria carried through the rose thorn.

"This is a rare condition that just picks on isolated people," he said. "We do not really know why the bacteria suddenly caused the infection. Many of us carry the bacteria with no ill-effects."