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Dubai tests for Legionnaires link

Dubai skyline - 22/12/2008
The three infected people had all stayed in the same Dubai hotel

A five-star hotel in Dubai is testing for Legionnaires' Disease after three guests contracted the illness.

One of the guests of the Westin Dubai Mina Seyahi, British cricket scorer and broadcaster Bill Frindall, died on Thursday after leaving Dubai.

A spokeswoman for the hotel said all tests for the bacterium that causes the disease had been negative so far but that checks were still being made.

The disease is a form of pneumonia spread through airborne water droplets.

Cricket tour

The owner of the Westin hotel chain, Starwood Hotels and Resorts, said it was working with the Dubai authorities to find out how Frindall and the other two, unidentified, guests became infected.

Sixty-nine-year-old Frindall was a guest of the hotel in mid-January, returning to the UK on 20 January from a tour to Dubai with his charity cricket team, the Lord's Taverners.

Bill Frindall
Bill Frindall was a highly-regarded cricket scorer and broadcaster

The team said no other members were showing symptoms of Legionnaires' Disease.

Tests by European and American experts on the Westin Dubai have so far not found the bacterium, Legionella, that causes the disease, said Starwood spokeswoman Amalie Craig.

The disease has never been detected at the hotel, according to its own regular checks, she said.

The Westin Dubai's staff has begun contacting guests to inform them of the three cases, Ms Craig said.

People become infected by inhaling water droplets containing the bacterium, says the European Working Group for Legionella Infections (EWGLI) - a group of scientists working on the disease.

Since the disease was first identified in 1976 - at a meeting of retired US military personnel, or legionnaires - outbreaks have been linked to hotels, cruise ships and other types of holiday accommodation.

The Legionella bacterium only poses a risk if it gets into water distribution systems such as air conditioners or plumbing, says the EWGLI.

About 5-15% of cases prove fatal, with elderly people most at risk.

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SEE ALSO
Cricket mourns death of Frindall
30 Jan 09 |  Cricket

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