Experts Demand Investigation After Three Britons Die Of Legionnaires’ Disease At Spanish Hotel

Simple Steps Could Have Protected Guests

03.02.2012

Legal experts acting for thousands of tourists who have fallen ill at Spanish hotels are calling for an urgent investigation after three British holidaymakers died from Legionnaires’ disease at a resort on the Costa Blanca.

Irwin Mitchell’s specialist International Travel Law team made the demands after Saga Holidays confirmed that an elderly man died in hospital and another was found dead in a hotel room after staying at the Diamante Beach Hotel, Calpe.  The Valencian Regional Authorities have confirmed that that a third man who stayed at the hotel was also victim of the life threatening disease.

Several other holidaymakers at the 283 bed hotel have also received treatment in hospitals in the UK and Spain in relation to the illness outbreak..

Saga are reported to have sent an expert to the hotel to test the hotel’s water, following the initial reports a Legionnaires’ outbreak in the middle of January. During this inspection, all of Saga’s customers staying at the hotel were moved to a different site. The Foreign Office is now offering assistance to victims and the families affected by the outbreak.

Irwin Mitchell has called on both Saga and health authorities in Spain to  quickly determine the source of the outbreak answers for the families of those affected. The  travel law team has acted for many families of those tragically killed by Legionnaires’ disease contracted at hotels abroad and for thousands of Britons who have suffered long-term health problems as a result of  serious illnesses both in the UK and abroad.

Clive Garner, who heads up the team, said: “Like so many of the past cases that we have dealt with in Spain, this outbreak highlights just how dangerous Legionnaires’ disease can be.

“Even the smallest amount of the bacteria in hotel water systems or air conditioning units can cause infection and serious respiratory illness, often with fatal consequences.

“While it is positive to see Saga and the hotel management responding to the outbreak, there are now clear questions which need to be answered. The risks of Legionella have been well known in the hotel and leisure industry for many years. There are clear protocols to be followed to eliminate the risk of Legionella infection. These protocols include simple basic steps like ensuring water is stored within an appropriate temperature range, water supplies should be regularly tested for Legionella contamination and regular chlorination and cleaning of water tanks, pipes, taps and showers should occur.  If the protocols are followed properly, hotel guests should be safe from infection.

“Holidaymakers who have stayed at the hotel in recent months and locals will be seeking reassurances that every step has been taken to limit and manage the outbreak, while they will also be keen to know that lessons can be learned which will prevent the same problems emerging in the future.”

Recalling previous illness outbreaks his team has dealt with, Clive added: “We also urge Saga to ensure that they keep anyone booked to stay at the hotel in the coming months fully informed of the problems which have occurred and how they have been managed.

“We have sadly seen a number of cases where tour operators have continued to send customers to sites affected by significant outbreaks of illness, with many holidaymakers oblivious to what has happened before.

“Full and clear communication is vital to ensuring customers are able to make fully informed decisions and make alternative arrangements if they have concerns.”