Newport grandad struck by Legionnaire’s disease

VERY POORLY: Peter Johnson,who has Legionnaire’s disease, and wife Carol

VERY POORLY: Peter Johnson,who has Legionnaire’s disease, and wife Carol

First published in News

A NEWPORT grandfather is battling Legionnaire’s disease – and his daughter says public health officials told her they are probing a second case in the city.

Peter Johnson, 63, has been virtually bed-ridden since he developed a fever and started hallucinating on holiday in Corfu on September 3.

Relatives are concerned for the Llanmartin resident, who runs Kelvedon Coach Painting, off Newport’s Corporation Road.

Mr Johnson’s daughter Kelli-Louise McKim, 34, said health officials told them a man in his mid-50s, who works near Corporation Road, also has the disease.

Public Health Wales has confirmed it is probing two Gwent cases, but says they are not being linked and it is not an outbreak.

Consultant Dr Lika Nehaul said no connections have been between cases. The causes of the infections have not been identified.

Mrs McKim said her father’s temperature suddenly shot to 105 degrees Fahrenheit (98.6F is normal) on a holiday to celebrate his wife Carol’s 60th birthday.

“My dad’s so ill it’s ridiculous,” Mrs McKim said.

“He’s slurring his words, he’s very unsteady, and sleeps ten hours a day.”

Greek doctors diagnosed a virus and put Mr Johnson on a drip until the family returned to Wales on September 6, when he was admitted to Newport’s Royal Gwent Hospital.

On September 7 he was discharged with antibiotics for suspected pneumonia.

But on September 8 health protection staff called to say it was Legionnaire’s disease and to return to hospital if his condition worsened.

Mr Johnson has not been able to work and is too weak to be a bearer at his brother’s funeral, who died of cancer this week. A scan to rule out fluid on the lungs is due on September 22.

For more information, visit www.wales.nhs.uk


EDITORIAL COMMENT: Don’t keep us in the dark

WHEN a newspaper hears of a local incident of Legionnaire’s Disease, our first duty is to inform the public. But not for the first time we are finding the amount of information we can give is restricted.

Not because of any legal arguments, not even because the family involved doesn’t want the information made public, but because the body responsible for releasing information in such cases, simply refuses to give anything other than the absolute minimum.

In the case we are reporting today, the family of a Newport man approached us about his contracting Legionnaire’s Disease. They have also been told that there is currently another case in Newport also being investigated by Public Health Wales.

Both men work in the Corporation Road area but according to Public Health Wales the two cases are not linked.

What the NHS organisation will not tell us is where it is searching for the source.

Public Health Wales is the body responsible. Past experience has shown it to be particularly reluctant to reveal information surrounding Legionnaire’s outbreaks, no doubt to avoid causing public panic.

In our view restricting the flow of information has exactly the opposite effect and it is doing the public no service whatsoever by the secrecy.

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