Fifth death in Cumbria could be Legionnaires'

Police are investigating a fifth death as part of their inquiries into the outbreak of Legionnaires' disease in the south Cumbrian town of Barrow-in-Furness.

June Miles, who was 56 and had four children, was discharged from Furness General Hospital three weeks ago after appearing to make a good recovery from the pneumonia-like symptoms of the bug but she died at her home in Barrow on Saturday. It is unclear whether the Legionnella bacteria was the cause of her death.

The total number of confirmed cases in the outbreak now stands at 133 – the biggest in the UK for more than a decade.

Ian Cumming, chief executive of Morecambe Bay Hospitals NHS Trust, said staff at Furness General Hospital were still "very concerned" about the health of two patients affected by the disease. Of the five remaining in intensive care, one is "very poorly" and another is described as being "poorly but stable". A further 17 patients remain in hospital, the majority of whom are said to be making "good progress".

Ian Smith, a Barrow coroner, is assessing the findings of a post-mortem to determine whether Legionnaires' disease was a key factor in the death of Mrs Miles, who also leaves a husband, George, and five grandchildren. The other people to have died amid the outbreak are 88-year-old great-grandfather Richard Macaulay, Wendy Millburn, 56, Georgina Somerville, 54, and Harriet Low, 74.

Meanwhile, health and safety experts in the West Midlands have continued to examine a chemical plant run by Rhodia Consumer Specialities in Oldbury, where seven people have been infected with the disease in a separate outbreak. A 50-year-old man from the area died on Sunday and six other people – two men and four women – needed hospital treatment. Results are expected within 10 days.

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