Legionnaires' cases suspected in Wales

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Two women who recently returned from a visit to Barrow-in-Furness have been admitted to hospital in north Wales with suspected legionnaires' disease, health officials revealed yesterday.

Two women who recently returned from a visit to Barrow-in-Furness have been admitted to hospital in north Wales with suspected legionnaires' disease, health officials revealed yesterday.

The suspected cases, the first outside Barrow, were revealed a day after the chief executive of the hospital trust dealing with the outbreak in Cumbria said the crisis was "coming to an end". The women, who were admitted to Wrexham Maelor Hospital over the weekend, were said to be in a comfortable condition last night.

A North-east Wales NHS Trust spokesman said the women had been to Barrow, which has had the biggest outbreak of the disease in Britain for 17 years. During their visit, the women were thought to have walked past the likely source of the outbreak, the Forum 28 council arts centre, which has been closed since the beginning of the month.

The spokesman said: "Two women were admitted to Wrexham Maelor over the weekend, one on Friday and one on Sunday. They have symptoms consistent with them having contracted Legionella. We are testing to try and establish whether or not that is the case, and we are treating them on the basis that they could have the illness." Managers from the hospital in north Wales have informed the "outbreak control team" in Barrow of the suspected cases.

Two people in Barrow have died in the outbreak, Richard Macaulay, who was 88, and Wendy Millburn, 56. Yesterday, another person in Cumbria was diagnosed as having the disease, taking the number of confirmed cases to 125. Of these, 52 are in hospital.

Ian Cumming, the chief executive of the Morecambe Bay Hospitals NHS Trust, which covers the Cumbrian town, said: "Although we cannot rule out seeing a few more new cases, we are fairly confident that there will be no more than a few.

"The in-patient side of the hospital remains extremely busy looking after over 50 people with legionnaires' disease on top of our normal medical workload. Twelve of these people require very high levels of care and are in intensive care units. Of these, three are very poorly indeed."

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