Irwin Mitchell Instructed By Several Victims And Families Struck By Legionnaires Outbreak at Spanish Hotel
Expert lawyers acting for the families of four British guests who were killed and several others left seriously ill by an outbreak of Legionnaires Disease at a Spanish hotel earlier this year have called for further urgent investigations after reports emerged of a further outbreak of Legionnaires disease at the same hotel.
In the last few days it has been confirmed by regional health officials in Spain that eight people are believed to have contracted Legionnaires Disease at the Diamante Beach Hotel in Calpe towards the end of June. It is understood that the hotel has been closed again, with the city of Valencia’s regional health official, Luis Rosado, confirming that the closure of the hotel had taken place to avoid new cases and to isolate the bacteria.
The news has come just months after the fatal outbreak of illness at the resort on the Costa Blanca in December 2011 and January 2012 which is believed to have left four guests dead and several others seriously ill.
International travel law experts at Irwin Mitchell have now asked for urgent answers to a number of questions after seeing evidence suggesting that health authorities were apparently aware of the outbreak in December last year, weeks before action was taken to close the hotel at the beginning of February. They also expressed concerns as to why the hotel was re-opened if the problems had not been resolved.
And their call has been backed by clients who fell ill at the hotel in January this year including 74-year-old June Scott who was left facing a battle for survival after oxygen levels in her body plunged just hours after returning home to the UK after a two-week festive break at the resort, and the daughter of George Carroll, who died in his hotel room on 26 January, aged 73, from contracting Legionnaires Disease.
Experts at the law firm have obtained a report from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control which details a case of Legionnaires Disease at the hotel being reported in December 2011 - but it was not until 2 February 2012 that the hotel was finally closed to guests.
Irwin Mitchell lawyers say they are ‘deeply concerned’ about why one of their clients, who booked through the hotel direct, was allowed to check in as late as 22 Jan 2012, after the report indicates that the hotel was aware of the outbreak by the middle of January at the latest.
The report also reveals that the same hotel suffered a Legionnaires outbreak in 2007, when seven people were apparently struck down by the disease.
Philip Banks, a Partner in the travel law team at Irwin Mitchell, said: “We have already seen first-hand the hugely devastating impact that Legionnaires Disease has had on our clients who contracted the disease at this hotel and the families of those who so tragically died as a result. For there to be reports of further illness amongst recent guests just a few months later is beyond belief.
“There is a clear and absolute need for a full investigation into both outbreaks to discover how they occurred and what steps could and should have been taken to have prevented guests at this hotel contracting this potentially fatal disease.
“Health authorities in the local region need to work quickly and thoroughly to determine the cause of the outbreaks. Everything possible needs to be done to ensure lessons are learned. We will continue to fight for justice for the families of those so tragically killed and those who have suffered serious illness. To assist us, we are keen to speak to any other guests who stayed at the Diamante Beach hotel who have suffered illness.
“We are also deeply worried after seeing the report that suggests health authorities were aware of Legionnaires Disease being present at the hotel for some weeks before guests were notified at the end of January. We need to know when the hotel and tour operators were made aware of this outbreak, as the hotel continued to check holidaymakers in throughout this time.
“My clients understandably want answers as to why this was allowed to happen, resulting in devastating consequences.
“The Legionella bacteria can be effectively controlled by maintaining water at correct temperatures and with appropriate chlorination. There are established protocols that are in place to prevent the contraction of Legionnaires disease so there is no excuse for repeated outbreaks.”
The law firm is demanding answers from the hotel management including:
• What was the source of the outbreak of Legionnaires Disease in 2007?
• What steps did the authorities recommend were taken in the light of the 2007 outbreak to avoid problems in the future?
• What steps were in fact taken and when?
• When were the hotel management first aware that a guest at the hotel had suffered suspected Legionnaires Disease in 2011/2012?
• When was the diagnosis of Legionnaires Disease from the 2011/12 outbreak first confirmed to the hotel management?
• What steps were taken to eradicate the source of the infection and reduce the risk of further illness amongst guests and on what dates?
• Why were guests not warned about the outbreak earlier?
• When and why did the hotel decide it was safe to re-open?
Irwin Mitchell’s call for answers has been echoed by 74-year-old June Scott, from Reading in Berkshire, who spent two weeks over the Christmas holidays with her partner at the Diamante Beach Hotel in Calpe, Costa Blanca, arriving on December 20th - after the first notification to authorities of Legionnaires at the hotel.
The grandmother-of-12 was left facing a battle for survival after oxygen levels in her body plunged just hours after returning home to the UK.
Mrs Scott is one of several clients who have instructed the travel team at Irwin Mitchell to help them find answers as to why the deadly outbreak happened and to ensure lessons are learnt by the hotel management to prevent further cases at the resort.
Mrs Scott, who is still suffering symptoms and is undergoing further tests, said: “The holiday was fine but, not long after we got back, I began to feel awful with flu-like symptoms. Then, before I really knew what was happening, I was in hospital.”
Within hours of Mrs Scott’s return to her home in Reading, Berkshire, on 3rd January, medics were battling to save her life after she began experiencing breathing difficulties, headaches, pain down one side of her body, stomach cramps, nausea and diarrhoea.
Her GP made an emergency visit, by which time her oxygen levels were so low she was rushed to the Royal Berkshire Hospital and admitted straight into the intensive care unit where she remained for two days and in hospital for a further seven.
She added: “I can’t believe that incidents like this can be allowed to happen. I nearly died and others were not so fortunate, their families must be devastated. I’ve since spoken to people who were staying at the hotel when we were and they’ve told me they suffered the same symptoms. We even spoke to one man while we were in the hotel who has since died. I still can’t come to terms with it.
“Doctors are not sure of the long term damage this has done to me yet. I’m still suffering from flu symptoms and only time will tell what the lasting effects will be. Saga and the hotel must ensure they provide answers and support to all those involved.”
George Carroll, from Brighton, arranged to stay at the Diamante Beach Hotel from 3 January until 31 January. He was moved to a different hotel after the outbreak by Saga on 24 January and died in his hotel room on 26 January, aged 73, from contracting Legionnaires Disease.
His devastated daughter Marianne said: “This whole situation has been a living nightmare for my family. It has been a tremendously stressful and sad time since my Dads death. It’s just not acceptable for anyone to die as a result of someone else’s ignorance, incompetence or negligence.
“How is it that people can die of something which is so easily preventable when under other peoples care in a hotel? Why were dad and other guests allowed to stay in a hotel if they knew there was a risk of contracting Legionnaires Disease? It is really unforgiveable and so important to make sure that no one else suffers.
“It’s been a really hard time emotionally and we’ve felt very unsupported throughout having to chase for information and answers all the way. First we were told that dad had died of a heart attack. Then, on the 2 February we were told of a possible link with Legionnaires, but then heard nothing more. Three weeks later, after requesting a post mortem report, we were shocked to find out that my Dad lost his life because of respiratory failure, pneumonia due to the onset of Legionella.
“My father was a kind, generous, gentle soul with a ready smile, twinkle in his eye and a love of life. It was not his time yet. Family and friends have been left suffering from shock and grief over our loss. It is just too tragic and sad, and it breaks my heart.”
The family of Raymond Jones, from Abington, who passed away on 30th January, aged 78, after contracting Legionnaires Disease at the hotel have also spoken out.
His daughter Elizabeth Jones said: “Dad had such a full social life and many friends. It is so wrong how his life was ended like this. I have so many questions about what happened and why my dad never returned home from what should have been a relaxing holiday.”
“I hope that the health authorities can quickly provide answers about what happened at the hotel and why so many people have been affected by this horrible disease so no one else has to suffer this loss.”
Information noted in the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control report stated: “Since 16th December, 13 cases of TALD (Travel Associated Legionnaires Disease) have been notified to the ELDSNet Surveillance network (European Legionnaires Disease Surveillance). All cases (12 residents from the UK and one from Spain) stayed in the hotel between 25 November 2011 (first arrival) and 31 January (last departure). Dates of onset range from 4 December 2011 to 31 January 2012.”