Healax Spa Visitors Urged To Come Forward As Public Health Investigation Begins
A group of people from Southampton and Bournemouth have instructed specialist Public Health lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate the circumstances of their illnesses, after guests fell ill with suspected Legionnaires’ disease and Pontiac fever, following visits to the Healax Salt Caves Spa and Health Club in Bournemouth this June.
Irwin Mitchell’s specialist Public Health team have been instructed by a number of families suffering with symptoms after visiting the spa between 11 and 15 June, two of whom had to be admitted to hospital via ambulance. Other visitors to the spa are now being urged by Public Health England to come forward, due to concerns that some people may be suffering with illness but are unaware of the cause, or source of their symptoms.
The spa is currently closed pending an investigation by Public Health England, with letters sent to those affected, asking them to follow the advice provided.
Symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease and Pontiac fever include headaches, fever, difficulty breathing, dizziness and sickness. Legionella infections are usually spread by water supplies and Pontiac fever is caused by the Legionella bacteria.
Expert Opinion“Healax Salt Caves is a popular spa in Bournemouth and we have already had three different groups of people instruct us to investigate the cause of their illness.
“As part of our investigations, we are keen to hear from anyone who may have visited the spa this year and also suffered from similar symptoms, as they may be able to help with our enquiries. Spa days are a popular gift and if people made bookings on behalf of friends or family, they may be unaware of this investigation.” Amandeep Dhillon - Partner
Those affected from Hampshire and Dorset, include five members of the same family from Southampton, and a 37 year old individual from Bournemouth, who was admitted to hospital on 15 June, where a diagnosis of Legionnaire’s disease was confirmed. As their work is commission based, they have already lost £4,000 in earnings.
The Southampton mum, 48 and her 17 and 18 year old sons; 8 year old daughter and niece, 24, all fell ill after visiting the spa on 15 June. The family day out became a nightmare when her niece and the children developed symptoms including fevers, hot and cold sweats, coughing, chest pain and headaches.
Mum began to feel unwell after visiting the spa, with a temperature of 104 degrees F. Diarrhoea and abdominal pains were followed by lethargy and confusion. Her symptoms were so severe, that she was admitted to hospital via ambulance. As the primary carer for her daughter, she had no option but to discharge herself on 19 June, while the letter from Public Health England confirming the outbreak left her devastated.
Speaking on behalf of her family, the mum said: “When I received the letter about the Public Health investigation I burst into tears. I took my children and niece somewhere nice as a treat, and this has happened. I feel as though I made my children sick by taking them there. It makes me feel dirty because we do not know what we have been exposed to. It broke my heart, hearing my children call out for me, when I was so physically weak, that I could not help them. I felt so guilty being in hospital knowing that they were at home, ill, and needing me.”
Those who fell ill after visiting the spa, felt that something was not right and reported concerns to staff, including slime, the unusually high humidity and water on the walls. Having enjoyed spa days in the past, the mum recognised something was different this time.
Mum added: “I said to the woman at the spa, my feet slipped on something slimy at the bottom of the Jacuzzi; why is it so slimy? She told me that it was because of the salt water in the hot tub and that the oils are attracted to the salt. I also remember thinking that the spa felt very warm. I go to a different spa, which never feels that humid. It felt as though you were in the hot tub as soon as you walked in. I felt the heat hit me.”
I think it’s important that this is properly investigated so that we have answers about what happened to us.”
The mum concerned still feels exhausted and as though she has been ‘wiped off her feet’ and while her children have largely recovered from their ordeal, one of her sons still feels unwell, so the family plan to seek further medical attention and advice.
Irwin Mitchell have vast experience of dealing with Legionnaires’ Disease incidents and have previously represented hundreds of victims of Legionnaires’ Disease including victims of high-profile outbreaks in Stoke-on-Trent, Edinburgh and hotels abroad.