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Woman ended up in coma after contracting Legionnaires' disease at luxury hotel spa, court heard

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Mary Kelleher, from Waterfall, Co. Cork, pictured leaving the Four Courts. Pic: Collins Courts

Mary Kelleher, from Waterfall, Co. Cork, pictured leaving the Four Courts. Pic: Collins Courts

CollinsPhotoAgency

Mary Kelleher, from Waterfall, Co. Cork, pictured leaving the Four Courts. Pic: Collins Courts

A woman contracted Legionnaires' disease after using a luxury hotel's spa facilities, the High Court heard.

Mary Kelleher was in the induced coma for three weeks in hospital intensive care and when discharged from hospital after 54 days she was in a wheelchair and with crutches.

Mrs Kelleher and her husband Jer had decided to “splash out” on a stay in the five-star Muckross Park in Killarney, Co Kerry to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary in advance of a special mass and party at home.

She has sued the hotel and a specialist water treatment firm over having contracted the disease.

Liability has been admitted and the case is before the court for assessment of damages.

Mrs Kelleher told the court that after check in she went and “tried everything“ including the pool, the sauna, steam room and the hot and cold spa pool.

After they checked out, she said the couple were “on top of the world and very happy.”

But within days she was feeling unwell, her muscles were aching and she was very tired.

“I was aching stiff and tired. I put it down to the late night at the party. The house was full of food and I had no appetite," she said.

She went to the doctor and a viral infection was suspected but she was feeling tired and she said it was “like my muscles were losing power”.

When she went back to a doctor she was told she had pneumonia and was transferred to the Bon Secours Hospital in Cork.

“I can remember being admitted and put in a ward but I don’t remember anything else.”

When she woke up from her induced coma three weeks later, she thought it was the next day but a nurse said “welcome back, it is September 9 and you are in hospital.”

She added: “I didn’t realise for weeks how sick I was and how close I came to dying. I couldn’t talk.”

Mrs Kelleher (55) of Ballyshoneen, Waterfall, Co Cork has sued INUA Hospitality Series 2 Ltd with offices at Little Island, Cork and trading as Muckross Park Hotel.

She also sued specialist water treatment business, NCH Ireland Ltd trading as Chem Aqua with offices at Wilton Park House, Wilton Place, Dublin saying she was exposed to and contracted Legionnaires Disease after using the hotel spa facilities on August 6/7, 2015.

Her counsel, Pearse Sreenan SC, instructed by Amy Connolly of Cantillon Solicitors, said Mrs Kelleher suffered life changing injuries and at one stage in hospital her husband was told nothing more could be done for her.

She now suffers from considerable chronic fatigue, he said.

He said Mrs Kelleher had flu-like symptoms which continued and she went to a doctor on August 12 and then again two days later.

She was admitted to hospital on August 16 and transferred to intensive care because of the severity of her symptoms.

She had to be incubated and ventilated and Legionnaires' disease, which is a pneumonia caused by a type of Legionella bacteria, was confirmed.

When she woke from the induced coma she was in very poor condition and did not know where she was, he said.

She had to use a walking stick and needed intensive physiotherapy. She was discharged from hospital after 54 days on October 9, 2015.

Counsel said a HSE incident control team was convened on August 18 to look in to the matter.

Mr Sreenan said bacteria was traced back to the hotel and the indoor cold spa pool was thought to be the most likely source of infection and decommissioned.

The case continues.

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