A second person has died following an outbreak of Legionnaires' disease in Stoke-on-Trent, health officials have confirmed today.
A spokesperson for University Hospital of North Staffordshire said: "We can confirm that a man in his 70s has sadly died."
Two further patients remain in hospital and are in a stable or improving condition. The total number of confirmed cases remains at 20.
The Health Protection Agency (HPA) said the outbreak is being linked to a hot tub being sold by a warehouse in the city. HPA investigators have visited the JTF Warehouse in Fenton, Stoke-on-Trent, and the company was co-operating. A statement from the firm said: "JTF is extremely concerned and the product has been withdrawn from all stores."
The HPA said there had been 20 cases in the outbreak. Seven people diagnosed with the disease are in hospital in Stoke-on-Trent and another is in a stable condition in hospital in Leicester, the agency said. All those affected by the disease, which infects the lungs, are aged between their late 40s and mid-70s.
The HPA said samples from the hot tub at JTF Warehouse were confirmed at a specialist laboratory in Colindale last month as being an unusual strain of legionella bacteria and matched those taken from patients.
Dr Sue Ibbotson, from the HPA, said almost all the people, confirmed as having the bacteria, visited this warehouse in the two weeks before they fell ill.
"We know that spa pools are known to be effective mechanisms for spreading the legionella infection and it can take up to two weeks following exposure for people to develop symptoms of Legionnaires' disease.
"We may still expect to see new cases related to this outbreak."
A statement from JTF Warehouse said: "We have worked closely with the Health and Safety Executive in recent days to identify the cause and eliminate any further risk."
Dr Zafar Iqbal, director of public health, NHS in Stoke, said: "It's good news that we have a probable source, especially as we know it has been dealt with through precautionary measures.
"If people are displaying symptoms of Legionnaires' disease, such as aching muscles, fever, tiredness, headaches and a dry cough, they should see their doctor or contact NHS Direct on 0845 46 47."