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Legionnaires’ disease – Fatal Holiday Illness Bug?

As we hear news from Scotland that a second victim has died following an outbreak of Legionnaires in Edinburgh, Holidaymakers are approaching Simpson Millar’s travel law specialists for information on the risks of contracting this potentially fatal illness abroad.

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Simon Lomax, Simpson Millar’s Holiday Illness Manager when considering the risks of contracting Legionnaires’ Disease on holiday, says:

“Legionnaires’ Disease causes a pneumonia type illness and is potentially fatal to those who are at high risk as we have seen from the recent news from Scotland. The Health Protection Agency claims that the disease kills round 50 people annually in the UK, many of which have travelled abroad prior to the onset of symptoms which include high temperature, cough, headaches and muscle pains and flu-like fever and chills.”

“Travellers’ returning to the UK from holiday destinations with Legionnaires’ Disease often suffer pneumonia and occasional diarrhoea, as well as signs of mental confusion.”

“Simpson Millar’s specialist travel team have dealt with numerous cases of Legionnaires Disease claims. Indeed, my colleague Paul Stevens is extremely knowledgeable in this area and recently obtained compensation amounting to £27,000.00 for Mr C from the West Country.”

Mr C summed up the service received from Paul Stevens whilst handling his holiday claim as ‘very good.’ He continued to say that as a specialist travel lawyer, ‘Paul Steven’s listened to my thoughts and understood my situation.’

Simon continues to say;

“Experts suggest that Legionnaires’ Disease is not spread from person to person in a similar way to food poisoning outbreaks, so outbreaks are fortunately quite rare.”

“Legionnaires’ disease is a bacterial infection which affects the lungs and is caught by holidaymakers who inhale small droplets of water, suspended in the air which contains the bacteria. Legionnaire bacteria are widespread and are commonly found in rivers and ponds but such natural conditions are rarely correct for travellers to catch the disease.”

“Outbreaks of illness to holidaymakers occur from exposure to the Legionella bacteria found growing in purpose-built systems where water is maintained between 20-45 °C. These systems include: air conditioning units; shower heads; Jacuzzis and spa pools; and hot water systems used in hotels and restaurant abroad.”

Holiday Hotel Watch

“The risk of contracting Legionnaire Disease abroad is increased due to more favourable weather conditions, and holidaymakers should be wary about showers on the promenade or poorly maintained whirlpool spars.”

Symptoms of the disease present themselves within 2-19 days following exposure, and smokers, heavy drinkers, those over 45 and anyone with an impair immune system are at a higher risk of infection.

If you suffer from the symptoms described above, it is always advisable to seek advice from your GP, as a matter of precaution. Most Legionnaires cases involve holidaymakers travelling to hotels at the start of a season when water systems have not been used for some time, and Legionella is permitted to breed unabated.

If you have suffered illness whilst abroad contact one of Simpson Millar travel law specialists on 0808 145 1353 or complete our enquiries box. We will advise you on your rights and whether a claim for compensation against your tour operator is likely to be successful.

Dated: 18/06/2012


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