Belton man dies from Legionnaires’ disease

Tore Myhra passed away while on a cruise

Tore Myhra passed away while on a cruise - Credit: Archant

A former ship's captain died from Legionnaires' disease after becoming ill on a Caribbean cruise with his wife and daughter, an inquest heard.

Tore Myhra, 57, from Belton, near Great Yarmouth, died just a month after a woman who stayed on the same deck of the ship 'Liberty of the Seas' passed away from an identical strain of the disease.

But yesterday's Norwich inquest heard that it was impossible to say for certain whether Mr Myhra had contracted the disease on the ship.

The inquest heard that an outbreak of the disease had occurred at the same time at the Epic hotel in Miami where Mr Myhra and family had stayed before they boarded the ship.

Legionnaires' disease causes a serious pneumonia (lung infection), which you contract by breathing in droplets of water which contain Legionella bacteria.

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Mr Myhra, wife Sue and daughter Layna had stayed for two nights at the Epic hotel before the Royal Caribbean cruise lines ship sailed on October 24, 2009.

The inquest heard that Mr Myhra started feeling unwell on October 29 and was hospitalised on the ship.

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When it disembarked at the end of the cruise, he was taken as an emergency to the Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami, where he was diagnosed with pneumonia and subsequently legionella.

His condition deteriorated and he died on November 1 while his wife and daughter were at the departures lounge at the airport, where the girl was due to fly home while Mrs Myhra stayed with her husband at the hospital.

A post mortem examination was carried out and the cause of death was given as legionella pneumophila pneumonia.

The inquest heard that another Briton, Jean Young died from the same strain of legionella the previous month, after staying on the same sixth deck of the ship as Mr Myhra.

On being notified of this incident the ship had carried out water sampling and remedial steps were taken.

Two reports looking into the deaths and also the outbreak at the Epic hotel were carried out by US authorities.

Giving evidence at the inquest, independent expert Dr Nicholas Phin said the two reports came to varying conclusions about the source of the disease. He said the two deaths indicated a common exposure to the disease, either on the ship or on the onshore trips they made, but the court heard that samples taken for legionella on the ship at the time were all negative.

Therefore, while Dr Phin said the ship was a possible source of the common exposure, he could not say whether it was more likely or not that it was. Assistant coroner David Osborne concluded that Mr Myhra died from natural causes.

Norwegian-born Mr Myhra had been the master of several Royal Caribbean cruise ships, and met his wife Sue on board one in the 1980s. Mrs Myhra, who runs a caravan park in Belton, lost a case for damages against Royal Caribbean, and then lost an appeal against the court's decision.

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