The grieving family of a Huddersfield man who died of Legionnaires’ disease contracted on a Bulgarian holiday have said they’re determined to find out exactly what happened.
Brian Taylor, from Oakes, Huddersfield, was admitted to hospital with flu-like symptoms shortly after returning from a weeks’ break with Jet2.
Nearly a month after he was admitted to Calderdale Royal Infirmary, the 75-year-old died -- one of at least four people thought to have contracted deadly Legionnaires’ after staying at the Hotel Kalofer in Sunny Beach.
Package holiday firm Jet2 said the results of two independent tests at the hotel were negative for the Legionalla bacteria.
Mr Taylor began to feel ill on 19 June, two days after returning from Bulgaria, and was prescribed antibiotics by his GP.
However, rather than improving, Mr Taylor collapsed on 21 June and was taken to Royal Calderdale Hospital by ambulance. He was transferred to the intensive care unit where he spent 25 days.
The initial diagnosis given to Mr Taylor was pneumonia, a collapsed lung and sepsis but he was later diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease on 24 June. His condition appeared to start improving but he died on 17 July.
Martin Farrell, Mr Taylor’s stepson, said: “Before his holiday he was fighting fit but when I saw him on the Wednesday after he got back he looked awful. He was shaking and had a temperature and he didn’t talk much about his holiday.
“When he collapsed and was admitted to hospital we couldn’t believe it. He had to be sedated and it was awful to see him like that in the intensive care unit.
“We thought he was turning a corner at one point but then the unimaginable happened. It was a complete shock to us all.”
Mr Taylor’s stepdaughter Lorraine Williams, added: “We cannot believe what has happened. One minute Brian was going on holiday and then the next he had passed.
“Brian was a wonderful man who would do anything for his family. We are heartbroken at how he died and the fact that he never got to say goodbye to mum.
“We cannot thank the hospital staff enough for the care they gave Brian. However, we have so many concerns about what happened on his holiday and if more should have done to prevent his illness.
“We couldn’t believe it when we were told that others who stayed at the same hotel had also tested positive for Legionnaires.
“Nothing can make up for Brian’s death but we need to know what happened.”
Following Mr Taylor’s death his family have instructed a solicitor to investigate whether his illness was caused by conditions at the hotel.
Solicitors firm Irwin Mitchell said it is also working with the family of another man who was diagnosed with Legionnaires’ after also staying at the Hotel Kalofer in June. His tour operator was also Jet2.
The family of a third man, John Cowan from Lanarkshire in Scotland who died from Legionnaires’ disease after staying at the hotel in June, have separately brought a case against the travel firm.
The European Legionnaires’ Disease Surveillance Network said there has also been a fourth person with the disease which is potentially connected.
Jatinder Paul, legal expert at Irwin Mitchell representing the family, said: “All of Brian’s family are understandably heart-broken by their loss and are struggling to come to terms with what happened.
“We are now investigating how Brian contracted his illness and looking into his stay at the Hotel Kalofer. It is extremely worrying that other guests who stayed at the same hotel have also contracted this potentially fatal infection.”
The firm said it was interested in speaking to anyone who has any information regarding the standards at the Hotel Kalofer.
A spokesperson for Jet2, which is based in Leeds, said: “Sadly, we can confirm that two customers recently passed away shortly after returning to the UK from holiday in Bulgaria. We would like to offer our heartfelt condolences to their families at this very difficult time, and we have been in constant contact to offer all the assistance and support that we can.”
The travel firm said health and safety was its “absolute priority” and that it instructed two independent specialists to carry out tests of water samples at the hotel.
It added: “The results of all their tests were negative. We will continue to assist the local authorities in their investigations as required.”
Jet2 said as a precautionary measure it has transferred all customers and bookings to another hotel and suspended bookings at the Hotel Kalofer.