Briton dies after 'salmonella' outbreak

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The Independent Online

A British man has died and 19 other holidaymakers have been taken ill after a suspected food poisoning outbreak at their hotel in northern Italy.

Travel company Thomson confirmed that one of its customers, named in reports as 71-year-old Geoffrey Appleyard from Evesham, Worcestershire, died on Sunday after being taken ill while staying at the Grand Hotel Gardone on Lake Garda.

In a statement, Thomson said Italian police, who were awaiting the results of a post-mortem examination, had yet to establish a link between the poisoning and the guest's death.

A spokeswoman for Thomson added: "The Italian health authorities are investigating and the kitchen is currently closed.

"This is an isolated case, no new cases were reported since Monday and we are confident that the situation is under control."

Nine of those affected were still recovering in hospital, Thomson added, although none of them are said to be in any danger.

The Foreign Office said a total of 16 British people had been treated in hospital after the suspected outbreak of salmonella.

Mr Appleyard is believed to have been on holiday with his 74-year-old wife Jean when he began complaining of stomach pains after eating at the four-star hotel.

Paramedics were called and treated him, but he died in his room.

British law firm Irwin Mitchell, which has already been instructed by a number of the holidaymakers, said legal action would almost certainly be launched.

Clive Garner, the firm's Head of Travel Law, said: "While fatalities caused by food poisoning are very rare, they can occur as is suspected in this case.

"Even when not life-threatening there is a large risk of long-term health problems for people contracting salmonella or other serious illness through contaminated food.

"We see long-term side effects in around 40 per cent of the clients who instruct us following food poisoning."

Mr Garner added: "From our experience most episodes of food contamination in the hotel and catering industry could have been avoided if basic, simple steps were taken in the sourcing and preparation of food, as well as the maintenance of the areas in which food is prepared, stored and served.

"We are investigating the precise cause of the outbreak on behalf of our clients who became ill at the Grand Hotel."

Mr Garner added: "From what we know so far it looks like there has been a major breakdown in health and hygiene measures leading to a large scale outbreak of illness.

"Questions will have to be answered by the hotel management and the tour operators using the hotel, including Thomson, as to how this has been allowed to happen. Legal proceedings are highly likely to follow."

Allister Stewart, 62, and his 61-year-old wife Elizabeth, from Marlborough, Wiltshire, are among those who are being treated in hospital in Italy.

Mr and Mrs Stewart arrived at the Grand Hotel on June 17 and began to suffer with gastric symptoms within a few days.

Having attended a local doctor, the couple were admitted to hospital as their conditions deteriorated and they are currently awaiting test results, although they have been told they are likely to have been contaminated with salmonella.

In a statement issued by Irwin Mitchell, Mr Stewart commented: "Both my wife and I have been extremely ill and we are awaiting the results of further tests.

"We are very concerned that we could be suffering from salmonella and we have now been told that the hotel has had to close their kitchen.

"While we were at the hotel ambulances were coming and going."

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