Man suffers relapse as third dies of legionnaires’

Gordon Erasmuson was taken to hospital yesterday
Gordon Erasmuson was taken to hospital yesterday
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A THIRD man has died as a result of the Capital’s legionella outbreak and another was taken back to hospital more than a month after he first became ill.

Gordon Erasmuson, 59, who was diagnosed with legionnaires’ disease last month, was taken to the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary for tests yesterday.

The news came as it as it emerged a man in his 60s from south-west Edinburgh had died, with the Scottish Government saying he was suspected of having legionnaires’ disease.

Health chiefs stressed that he was likely to have contracted legionella during the suspected exposure period.

Mr Erasmuson described his own “hellish” ordeal after he developed the illness on May 30. He said he suffered terrifying hallucinations and temporarily stopped breathing at his home in Gorgie, before he sought medical help.

He was taken back to the ERI yesterday morning after he thought he was suffering a heart attack, and is awaiting the results of blood tests.

Doctors suspect the scare had been caused by the legionella bug which first attacked his lungs weeks before.

“I was just having a cup of tea and I felt I was going to collapse,” he said. “I thought I was having a heart attack. They think it may be a residual infection of the lung and it could be lingering on.”

Mr Erasmuson called the ambulance from his home in Westfield Street, close to cooling towers in Gorgie which are the suspected source of the outbreak.

At the height of his illness, Mr Erasmuson feared for his life and described the vivid hallucinations he experienced as he fought the disease at home.

He said he was too weak and delirious to seek medical help, before he went to the Western Infirmary and was diagnosed with legionnaires’ disease on June 7. “When it all started I thought I just had a dose of the flu,” the retired carpenter said. “As it progressed I began vomiting, coughing up phlegm and suffering with diarrhoea, then I went delirious.”

Describing the hallucinations – a well-known symptom of the disease – he added: “I thought the roof of my flat was off and I could see the open sky and water flowing down the walls. I believed it was real. I even crawled from my bed to my laptop to save it from the water.”

The number of confirmed cases of legionnaires’ disease stands at 50, with 49 suspected cases. At noon yesterday, there were three patients in intensive care and six on general wards.

AIRLIFT GRAN ‘MAKING PROGRESS’

JOHN-PAUL HOLDEN

A GRANDMOTHER with legionnaires’ disease who was airlifted to a hospital in England and placed in a medically induced coma is making good progress, family members said yesterday.

Anne Bennett, 60, is still receiving treatment at Glenfield Hospital in Leicester after suffering multiple organ failure brought on by the deadly bug.

James Bennett, 62, Mrs Bennett’s brother-in-law, said: “They’ve taken her off the dialysis machine and she’s breathing a bit on her own now but they’ve also had her on a breathing machine.

“She’s coming round every now and then, and she recognises [her husband] Frank and [daughter] Leanne. They’re bringing her out of the coma to see how she responds and then putting her back in.”