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Legionnaires' Disease victim dead

HEALTH officers from three counties are searching for a source of deadly Legionnaire's Disease after a contract cleaner from Yateley died.

HEALTH officers from three counties are searching for a source of deadly Legionnaire's Disease after a contract cleaner from Yateley died.

A spa area at a Camberley gym has already been closed to the public following the death of Craig Silvers, 40.

He died at Frimley Park Hospital on June 14 and a post mortem test was due to be carried out on June 20, followed by an inquest.

Legionnaires' Disease is caused by the legionella bacterium, which is associated with water and causes potentially fatal pneumonia-like symptoms.

Although the disease cannot be passed from person to person, there is a risk of further infection from contaminated water if the source is not found quickly.

Environmental health officers have traced Mr Silvers' movements. His job as a contract cleaner took him to places in Hampshire, Surrey and Berkshire.

Camberley gym Fitness First has been identified as a possible source and its spa area has been closed while tests are carried out.

But so far there is no evidence of the legionella bacteria in the water jets in the spa.

Ken Stewart, environmental health officer at Surrey Heath Council, said: "This is the second case of Legionnaires' Disease we've had to investigate in just over a year."

Mr Stewart added that the long incubation period of the disease made locating the contamination source difficult.

"You have to go back over quite a long time when looking for the cause.

"All premises that Mr Silvers visited will have to be investigated and if the organism is found to be present in one of them then we will immediately inform the public.

"As far as this local authority is concerned, we'll continue with our investigations until we're satisfied that we have found the source."

Local authorities for the three counties are carrying out their own investigations into premises that could have caused the death of Mr Silvers.

A spokesman for Frimley Park Hospital confirmed that there was no risk to other patients or staff.

Dr Linda Booth, a consultant in communicable disease control, said: "Legionnaires' can be due to all kinds of different water sources, from domestic to garden centres, air conditioning and things like spas with water jets.

"Organisms exist in lots of water supplies but don't normally cause a problem.

"It is only if a system is not maintained properly that the conditions will be right for legionella to grow."

Roger Russell, 61, of Crowthorne, died of Legionnaires' Disease in June 2001 after inhaling the deadly bacteria from a spa bath on display at a Bagshot garden centre.

A decision has still not been made whether to prosecute Merlin Timber Products, the spa company, for his death.

Symptoms of Legionnaires' Disease include fever, chills and a cough, with more severe cases including abdominal pains, diarrhoea and confusion.

But laboratory tests are needed to distinguish it from other forms of pneumonia.

It is usually treated with antibiotics but it becomes a serious threat when a person has the disease for a period of incubation without developing any tell-tale symptoms.

A spokeswoman for Fitness First said: "Fitness First has been informed by the environmental health authority that a 40-year-old man has died of Legionnaires' Disease.

"The individual concerned worked for a contract cleaning company and was part of a team that cleaned Fitness First Camberley on June 1 and 2.

"Fitness First is co-operating fully with the health authorities in this matter and as a precautionary measure we have closed the spa area until the tests being conducted are complete.

"We would like to offer our deepest sympathy to the gentleman's family and friends.

"To the best of our knowledge no employee or member of Fitness First has suffered any similar illness."


Charlotte Neal
Chief Reporter (Aldershot)
Joshua Smith
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Jon Couch
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Stephen Lloyd
Fleet & Yateley Reporter
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