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British holidaymakers die from Legionella outbreak on Costa Blanca

A total of three British tourists have died after an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease at an hotel in Calpe on the Costa Blanca. The pneumonia-like illness has affected 14 people so far, including four Spaniards and 10 British holidaymakers.

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Saga holidays has confirmed that two British holidaymakers died from Legionnaires’ disease while staying at the same hotel in Calpe, Spain.

The two men were staying at the Diamante Beach Hotel in Calpe, Spain. One of the men died in hospital from effects of the Legionella bacterium on 31 January and another man was found dead in his room at a hotel he had been moved to after the outbreak. The cause of death was found to be Legionnaires’ disease but he had not reported any symptoms.

Five other holidaymakers suffering from Legionnaires’ disease who had stayed at the same hotel have been treated in UK hospitals and four have been discharged. Another holidaymaker with Legionnaires’ disease has been treated in a Spanish hospital and has since been discharged.

Saga said that it had sent a scientific expert to the Diamante Beach Hotel to investigate the outbreak of Legionella at the hotel in January. The holidaymakers who had died were all in their 70 and 80s and had developed flu-like symptoms. Water samples at the hotel were tested and guests were moved to a different hotel, said a Saga spokesman.

Legionella is a bacterium that can exist in water pipes, showerheads and air conditioning units if they are not kept clean. It usually affects large buildings with extensive water systems. The symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease include fever and muscle aches and a dry cough and can be confused with flu symptoms. Those with weakened immune systems can be especially vulnerable to the effects of the bacterium. Around 500 cases of Legionella are diagnosed in the UK each year and around one-third are contracted abroad. Around 10 per cent of Legionella cases are fatal.

Saga is to offer compensation to those affected by Legionella. The company has stopped using the hotel for its clients. It was told of the outbreak on 14 January and has advised anyone who stayed at the Diamante Beach Hotel and develops flu-like symptoms to see their GP.

“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 a spokesman for Saga holidays.

Spanish health authorities have closed the Diamante Beach Hotel to stop the infection spreading.

The names of those who died from the Legionella infection have not been released but the Foreign Office is providing consular assistance to relatives.

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Dated: 03/02/2012

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