Legionnaires' disease kills 3 Britons on Spanish holiday

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After contracting Legionnaires' disease during a Spanish holiday, 3 British pensioners have died and 3 more people are in hospital.

1 died in hospital, while 2 others were found in separate hotel rooms. According to Saga Holidays, its customers had been staying at the 283-room Diamante Beach Hotel in Calpe, Costa Blanca.

Spanish Holiday Illness

The holiday firm added that 5 holidaymakers, all in their 70s or 80s and recent residents of the same hotel, were treated in UK hospitals. All but one had been discharged, as had another who was admitted to hospital in Spain.

The firm was advised that a holidaymaker was treated for pneumonia caused by Legionella on 14 January, according to a Saga spokesman. "When that happened we immediately sent out a scientific expert to Spain."

Those residents at the Diamante the previous month were told to seek medical advice if they noticed any symptoms relating to influenza, with all customers relocated to a different hotel after water samples were tested.

However, 1 victim, who had reported no existing health condition, died in his room at the 2nd hotel on 31 January.

Saga said the death was attributed by Spanish health authorities to Legionella bacterium.

"This is clearly a very upsetting time for families and staff," said a spokesman. "We have sent extra people to Spain to support them in any way we can."

The spokesman added that Saga, a holiday firm specialising in holidays for the over-50s, will offer compensation to any customer who contracted the bacterium. The firm has meanwhile suspended booking clients into the Diamante.

"We have done an inspection of the plumbing and made some recommendations to reduce possibilities of a further outbreak and they will need to make changes before we consider using it again," said the spokesman.

Legionella bacteria are often present in the plumbing or air-conditioning systems of large buildings. When inhaled, Legionnaires' disease can develop and lead to lung infection or pneumonia.

Symptoms first appear from 2 to 10 days after exposure and include high fever, muscle aches and dry coughs. Smokers, the elderly and anyone with weakened immune systems are especially at risk from Legionnaires' disease.

Of the 500-odd UK cases reported each year, around 33% start overseas, with mortalities in 10% of instances.

The Foreign Office (FCO) said people affected by the outbreak and their families would receive help from the British Consulate. An FCO spokesman it was aware of the outbreak and the confirmed death of British nationals as a result.


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