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Former British soldier sues army after contracting Q fever in Afghanistan

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A former soldier is suing the Ministry of Defence (MoD) over its failure to protect him from contracting Q fever in Afghanistan.

Wayne Bass said his life has been ruined because of the British Army’s failure to provide antibiotics which would have prevented the illness.

Humans can catch Q fever, a bacterial infection, after breathing in dust from the faeces of infected farm animals such as sheep, cattle and goats.

Symptoms can include a high fever, chills or sweats and chest pain while breathing, but the NHS says the bacterial infection is “usually harmless, but can cause serious problems in some people”.

Mr Bass, who was a private in the 2nd Battalion the Mercian Regiment, was deployed to Helmand Province in 2011, to an area known for its heavy Taliban presence.

It is the first case to test the MoD’s duty to protect against Q fever, said Hilary Meredith Solicitors, the firm acting for Mr Bass.

A soldier from the 1st Battalion Royal Regiment Fusiliers leaves the security of the camp walls to conduct a dawn foot patrol in the Nahr-e Saraj district, Helmand Province, Afghanistan after leaving base Sterga 2. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday October, 5, 2013. See PA story DEFENCE Afghanistan. Photo credit should read: Ben Birchall/PA Wire
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Mr Bass served in Helmand, Afghanistan. File pic

The five-day trial starts at Central County Court on Monday and will examine the extent of any duty owed by the army to Mr Bass in relation to Q fever, and whether duty was breached.

Justin Glenister, partner at Hilary Meredith Solicitors, said: “This is the first case in which the question will be asked whether the MoD had a duty to protect soldiers against this known risk of Q fever, which we say was a preventable risk, and what steps it ought to have taken to protect them.

“There are other similar cases being prepared.”

After contracting the disease, Mr Bass experienced flu-like symptoms and an army doctor diagnosed him with Q fever.

He spent periods in hospital and at the MoD’s Headley Court rehabilitation centre in Surrey, where intravenous antibiotics failed to cure him.

Although the fever is usually treated successfully with antibiotics, Mr Bass developed chronic fatigue syndrome as a result of Q fever.

He claims to be living with aches and pains, breathlessness, and has trouble walking among other symptoms.

The MoD said it was inappropriate to comment while legal proceedings were ongoing.

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