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9 February 2016 British grandad airlifted home after catching Legionnaires' disease in Bulgaria

posted 9 Feb 2016, 05:09 by Ian Clarenbone

Colin Cookson, 72, believes broken air conditioning in the hotel room he shared with wife Iris contributed to the serious lung infection.  He spent eight weeks in hospital in Bulgaria after contracting Legionnaires’ disease while on holiday. The 72-year-old was left unable to walk without crutches.

The couple were staying at the Sunny Days Hotel and Apartment complex in Sunny Beach in Bulgaria last August when Colin began feeling unwell five days into the couple’s two week break. The following day, a local medical centre treated him for his flu-like symptoms where he was put on an IV drip and diagnosed with a chest infection. Another trip to the medical centre led doctors to believe he had pneumonia. Colin’s condition continued to worsen and he was admitted to a hospital in Burgas for six days before being airlifted home to the UK. The former stage rigger was taken to James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough where he was intubated and diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease.

Colin, a great grandfather, said: “The Sunny Days Hotel and Apartment complex has become a home from home for us after visiting over the course of so many years and it is very upsetting that we’ve had such a bad experience following our stay there.  The illness has taken its toll and I am still not back to my old self.  It’s not just me that has suffered; my wife has had to spend a lot of time looking after me. The whole ordeal was very difficult and frightening for my wife who was left struggling to cope on her own, in a foreign country, after I had fallen so ill. We need answers and want to ensure that, if possible, no one else has to suffer like we have.”

While the couple try to rebuild their lives, lawyers at Irwin Mitchell are investigating the conditions at the hotel in which the Cookson’s stayed.

Clare Pearson, an expert travel illness lawyer at Irwin Mitchell, representing Colin and Iris, said: “This case highlights just how serious Legionnaires’ disease is and the potential complications that can arise as a result. We have begun our own investigations into how Colin contracted Legionnaires’ disease.  We are asking anyone who stayed at the hotel last summer to contact us as they may be able to help us with our inquiries. It is not just their holiday which was ruined, this couple’s lives have been turned upside down as a result of the illness. It has had a huge impact on them, both physically and emotionally, and they deserve answers about what caused this terrible illness.”

A spokesperson for Balkan Holidays said: “There is an ongoing investigation into the circumstances of Mr Cookson’s illness and we are unable to comment further until these enquiries are completed. In the meantime we wish Mr Cookson a speedy recovery.”