Holidaymaker takes legal action against Thomas Cook after he gets Legionnaires’ disease

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A holidaymaker who says he contracted a deadly lung disease whilst on a trip to Greece is taking legal action against the tour operator.

David Townend, 70, from Chorley, was left hospitalised for five days when he was diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease after visiting the Morfos Apartments, in Troulos, Skiathos, Skiathos in May.

The retiree said he started getting headaches, fevers and shivering whilst on the Thomas Cook break with his wife Diana, 63.

David said the illness gradually became worse throughout the holiday and after seeing his GP when he got back home, he was sent to hospital where it was confirmed he had Legionnaires’ disease - a potentially lethal lung infection caused by Legionella bacteria which usually develops after breathing in small droplets of contaminated water.

David said: “The illness made everything such hard work and I quickly became very tired and started to suffer from headaches.

“At first I thought I’d just spent too much time in the sun but I was getting gradually worse all holiday and soon became really worried.

“I was in a hot country but I kept on shivering.

“I just did not know what was happening.

“My appetite reduced and I was only able to eat small amounts. I was not interested in doing anything and I just wanted to stay in the room.

“When I arrived back into the UK I felt awful. I was concerned for my health and so I went to see my GP and it was worrying when he admitted me to hospital. I felt tired constantly and did not know what was happening to me.

Diana said she was left “extremely worried” about her husband.

She said: “His condition worsened daily. On the day we were due to fly out, David became very confused and disoriented.

“We were concerned anyway about the water which always seemed to be cold in the mornings. The bathroom was not very clean. The taps and the toilets were dirty and the shower mat in the show tray was filthy.”

After spending the last six weeks in recovery, David has now asked specialist travel illness lawyers to investigate the cause of the disease.

Environmental Health officials have also been in touch with him about the disease and Chorley hospital doctors told him it was the first case of Legionnaires’ disease they had seen in around 12 years.

David, who usually goes on holiday two to three times a year, added: “I obviously didn’t go on holiday expecting to come back feeling terrible and needing hospital treatment.

“I just want to know what caused such a serious illness so that other people are not affected in future.”

Amandeep Samra, the lawyer representing the couple, said the disease is “very serious” and “can be fatal”.

He said: “Although at present the root cause in this case is not yet known, the risks of Legionnaires’ disease have been known for many years and there are very strict guidelines in place for hotels to prevent the spread of the disease.

“They include maintaining hot and cold water within the correct temperature range and strict maintenance of any storage tanks containing water to prevent the transmission of the bacteria.

“If these guidelines are not followed, the effects of an outbreak can be devastating.

“Following cases of Legionnaires’ disease it is important that the root cause is identified as soon as possible to prevent further holidaymakers being affected.”

A Thomas Cook spokesman said: “We are very sorry to hear that Mr Townend fell ill on holiday.

“We know how important holidays are to our customers and how upsetting it can be to fall unwell while overseas.

“We will liaise with the Townend’s appointed solicitor on the matter.”