New report links hot tubs to Stoke-on-Trent Legionnaires' disease outbreak
SURVIVORS of one of Staffordshire's biggest outbreaks of Legionnaires' disease have backed calls for a review into the use of hot tubs in public places.
The illness killed two men and left another 19 people in hospital last summer in what was the second worst outbreak of cases ever recorded in the county.
The probable cause of the outbreak was traced to a hot tub on display at the JTF Warehouse in Fenton.
Now the Health Protection Agency (HPA) has confirmed it is considering whether hot tubs should be completely banned from public displays.
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The move follows the publication of the HPA's Outbreak Report, which reveals there have been previous instances of the disease being traced to hot tubs in other countries. The report also claims guidance on hot tubs should be reviewed and circulated more widely.
Fifty four-year-old June Clews, from Second Avenue, Porthill, was one of the first people to be diagnosed after visiting JTF last July. She said: "I am relieved they managed to identify the source quite quickly and although a lot of people were affected it could have been so much worse.
"I hope they now make sure they do all they can to stop it from happening again, as it has affected so many lives."
Fellow survivor Dave Spooner, also aged 54, of Wedgwood Road, Cheadle, said: "I went into JTF perfectly fine and the next thing I knew I had got that lousy disease.
"So if reviewing the guidelines or banning hot tubs altogether means nobody else will have to suffer, then it should be done."
Sixty-year-old Peter Martin, of Springwood Avenue, Stone, spent 10 days in hospital fighting the disease.
He said: "I am back to work and feel much better now, but I am very wary of walking past water features which are on display. I tend to give them a wide berth."
Law firm Irwin Mitchell is representing 18 Legionnaires' survivors who are taking legal action following the outbreak.
William Hammersley, aged 79, of Sunningdale Grove, Chesterton, and 64-year-old Richard Griffin, of Westbury Park, died after contracting the bug.
Clive Garner, a partner at Irwin Mitchell, said: "There are hundreds of reported cases of Legionnaires' disease every year and this is unacceptable.
"The fact that this report is making further recommendations shows more needs to be done to ensure these outbreaks are stopped once and for all.
"The risks associated with hot tubs on display have been known for many years.
"We hope that now the report has been published those responsible for the store will admit liability for the illness suffered by our clients, so that we can help them to access the exact level of care and support they now need."