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Horrifying holiday experiences

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Holidays are a time most of us look forward to - some for many months, but for some they turn out to be a nightmare rather than the rest and relaxation they were hoping for.

When we holiday abroad, we have a right to expect the hotel we are staying in to maintain the highest standards of health and safety, but unfortunately that is not always the case. Not only can illness arise whilst holidaying abroad, but the consequences can be serious, sometimes fatal.

Three elderly British holidaymakers have become a tragic addition to the number of people who die after suffering an illness abroad, in this case following an outbreak of Legionnaires at a hotel on the Costa Blanca in Spain.

One man died in hospital in Benidorm, while 2 other victims died after returning to Britain. All were travelling with Saga, which specialises in holidays for the over 50s.

There are a number of other holidaymakers who are ill and being investigated, 14 in total, 10 of which are British, so the number of fatalities could yet rise. With an incubation period of 10-12 days, Spanish Health Authority officials said they could not rule out further new cases.

This is shocking news. One assumes these retired British people chose to head to the Costa Blanca to avoid the freezing winter, and all the hazards that brings with it for the elderly but instead, whilst meant to be enjoying warmer climes and recharging their batteries, they contract Legionnaires disease, which can be particularly damaging to the elderly or infirm. Legionnaires disease is caught by inhaling tiny water droplets containing bacterium and is often passed on by faulty air-conditioning or plumbing systems.

These British holidaymakers chose a trusted holiday company who specialise in holidays for their age group, yet despite this, this terrible outbreak has occurred.

Paul Green, a spokesman from the company confirmed Saga moved all its guests out of the hotel on 14th January 2012 when the alert was raised and said “it is vital for us at Saga that we do the right thing as quickly as possible and we quickly provided support for the customers and the families of those taken ill”.

The exact source of the outbreak is yet to be located, but no doubt when that is done investigations will follow to determine whether this outbreak could have been prevented, which will no doubt lead to questions of liability and whether those injured and the families who lost a relative will be able to bring a claim for compensation, and against who.

By personal injury solicitor and Stephensons’ Partner, Kate Sweeney