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article imageThree die of Legionnaire's disease in Spain

By Amanda Payne     Feb 3, 2012 in Health
Several British holidaymakers staying in a hotel in the town of Calpe on the northern Costa Blanca have contracted Legionnaire's Disease. Three have died so far with more being treated in hospital.
The tourists, all pensioners, were travelling with the British tour group Saga and had all stayed in the same hotel over a period of time. All the affected were elderly. According to a report by the BBC, the first victim was treated for pneumonia caused by the legionella virus on Jan 14. "When that happened we immediately sent out a scientific expert to Spain," the spokesman said.
The third victim's death from Legionnaire's was confirmed by a report in The Independent on Feb 3, which said that his death had originally been treated as being caused by heart problems. Quoted by the Independent, the Foreign Office said
"We are aware of an outbreak of Legionnaires' disease in Calpe. Local health authorities have confirmed the death of three British nationals as a result and are investigating. We are providing consular assistance to those affected by the outbreak and their families."
Local English language newspaper, Round Town News reports that the source of the infection is still unknown although all those affected stayed in the same hotel in Calpe, near Benidorm. The report says a total of six people have been affected although some were not diagnosed until they returned to the UK. The paper quotes a Saga spokesman as saying:
“It is vital for us at Saga that we do the right thing as quickly as possible and we quickly provided support for customers and the families of those taken ill.” and explaining that all Saga holidaymakers had been moved to other hotels. “Even though the hotel has been given a clean bill of health, we will not use it for our customers until the work is completed and it has been tested again for the bacteria.”
The British Health and Safety Executive website says that Legionnaire's is a type of pneumonia "It is caused by the bacterium Legionella pneumophila and related bacteria that can be found naturally in environmental water sources such as rivers, lakes and reservoirs, usually in low numbers. As they are commonly found in environmental sources they may also be found in purpose built water systems such as cooling towers, evaporative condensers and whirlpool spas."
The elderly, those with weakened immune systems or heavy smokers are more likely to be affected. It is not passed from person to person, the affected person has to have actually inhaled water droplets with the virus in them to catch the illness.
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