A FATHER of two who contracted Legionnaires’ disease is lucky to be alive, doctors have said.

Andrzej Ostrowski, from Salisbury, has been left with severe lung damage and struggles to walk after falling ill at the end of April. It is not yet known where the 48-year-old caught the bacteria but Wiltshire Council is investigating to find the source.

Andrzej who moved with his family to Salisbury from Poland seven years ago had spent the previous ten weeks working as a kitchen fitter in people’s homes in Salisbury, Southampton and Bournemouth.

His wife, Iwona said: “At first doctors thought it was a virus so he was given antibiotics but the next day he couldn’t move, we went into the walk-in centre and the doctor called the hospital. For two days they couldn’t find anything, he was really ill.

“Then doctors said it’s Legionella and told us if we had left it just a couple of hours later, he would have died.”

Legionnaires’ disease, caused by Legionella bacteria infecting the lungs, is usually caught by breathing in small droplets of contaminated water.

Symptoms are initially flu-like with a high temperature, chills and tiredness but once bacteria begin to infect the lungs, people can also experience symptoms of pneumonia. The disease which is not contagious can become lifethreatening when the lungs or kidneys stop working properly and sepsis takes hold.

Iwona who works as a cleaner at Salisbury’s Sports Direct Gym said: “He was on a drip for a week and his lung damage is permanent – 75 per cent of one lung is damaged and the other is 50 per cent damaged. He can’t work, he can’t walk anywhere without needing to rest and he can’t even look after the children, he is constantly exhausted.”

The family of four are worried about the future, with Andrzej unable to earn a living. “He had only been with the agency a short time so cannot get any sick pay and he is unable to access any disability benefits until three months’ time,” Iwona said.

The last time Andrzej went abroad was in December and with the incubation period usually six to seven days, the family believe he caught the disease somewhere in England.

A Wiltshire Council spokesman said: “Our Environmental Health Officers have been working closely with Public Health England and other partners to try to establish where the illness originated, to minimise the risk of anyone else falling ill.

"In this case the patient has travelled abroad which cannot be ruled out as a possible source of infection.”