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Dubai Health Authorities Investigating Cause of Three Hotel Guests
 Infected with Legionnaires' Disease
By K.T. Abdurabb, Arab News, Jeddah, Saudi ArabiaMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News

Feb. 2, 2009 --DUBAI -- Dubai authorities have launched an investigation to determine how three guests became infected with legionnaires' disease, including one who died on Friday. British cricket statistician and broadcaster Bill Frindall, 69, died on Friday after falling ill with the infectious disease after a cricket tour of the UAE a fortnight ago. Two other guests of the hotel also fell ill. Their condition was unknown. They were staying at The Westin Dubai Mina Seyahi Beach Resort and Marina in Jumeirah.

"A thorough investigation is on. Dubai health authority officials, independent assessors, including leading experts from Europe and the US, have been taking part in the investigation," said a civic official on condition of anonymity.

Arab News tried to contact Westin Dubai Mina Seyahi Beach Resort & Marina's public relation manager, but she was not available for comments. Hotel sources said that they would contact the paper as soon as possible.

However, it is not known where Frindall contracted the disease. The Westin Dubai Mina Seyahi Beach Resort and Marina, where he was staying, is investigating the case.

The initial tests in the Westin Dubai Mina Seyahi Beach Resort & Marina have not found the presence of the bacterium that causes the disease, the hotel's parent company said.

The company, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc., said it is conducting an investigation with government and health officials in Dubai, and has brought in outside experts from Europe and the US.

"Although recent monitoring and testing has not revealed the presence of legionella at the property, hotel management is continuing to monitor the situation and has begun contacting guests and associates to advise them of the circumstances," the company said in a statement.

The beachfront Westin Dubai recently served as headquarters and site of the start and finish line for the Dubai Marathon.

Legionnaires' disease is a form of pneumonia that can be spread through plumbing and air conditioning systems. It can be fatal, particularly in people with weakened immune systems and the elderly.

Word of the outbreak comes at a delicate time for Dubai's young tourism industry. Many of the city-state's hotels have slashed their rates to compensate for a drop in visitors because of the financial crisis.

-- With input from agencies


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Copyright (c) 2009, Arab News, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

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