Hilary Meredith Solicitors is bringing the first case to test the Ministry of Defence’s (MoD) duty to protect against Q fever.
The firm is acting for former soldier Wayne Bass, who contracted Q fever in Afghanistan and says his life has been ruined by the Army’s failure to provide antibiotics that would have protected him from the disease.
In 2011, Wayne Bass, a private serving with 2nd Battalion The Mercian Regiment, was deployed to Helmand Province, to an area known for its heavy Taliban presence and fire. His platoon was responsible for reconnaissance and protecting other forces. It is there that he believes he contracted Q fever, an infection caused by bacteria most commonly found in cattle, sheep, and goats.
Humans typically get the disease when they breathe in dust from faeces of infected animals.
Justin Glenister, partner at Hilary Meredith Solicitors, believes the case breaks new legal ground. He commented: “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.”
The five-day trial, starting today at Central London County Court, will examine the extent of any duty owed by the Army to Wayne Bass in relation to Q fever, and whether that duty was breached.
The MoD has declined to comment on the ongoing legal case.
Its defence, according to BBC News, argues that 200 personnel per year tested positive for Q fever in 2008 to 2011 and of those only a third were symptomatic. The risk of contracting the disease is very low and the MoD follows follows the recommendations of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, which does not recommend vaccination for Q Fever.