LEGAL action is being taken against a Hampshire restaurant after dozens of diners were struck down by the potentially lethal sickness bug salmonella.

The Real China in Eastleigh’s Swan Centre complex closed voluntarily on July 24 after more than 30 diners, including a three-year-old, fell ill after eating there.

And the outbreak is now part of a national investigation by Public Health England into 156 cases of salmonella nationwide.

It was revealed last night that three of those patients related to the outbreak in the West Midlands have died – but the bug was not cited as a contributing factor into two of the deaths with the third yet to be determined.

Eastleigh Borough Council’s environmental health team has also launched an investigation and has received more than 70 complaints, with 32 confirmed cases of salmonella.

Now lawyers have been called in by diners struck down by the potentially life-threatening bacteria.

The victims have asked law firms to help uncover the source of their illness and gain justice for the problems they have suffered after eating at the restaurant.

One of them, Irwin Mitchell, has a team of legal specialists with experience in representing victims of outbreaks of salmonella and other gastric illnesses.

Public health lawyer Amandeep Dhillon said: “We have seen on numerous occasions the severe impact salmonella can have on the victims in the short and longer-term, as it can often lead to the development of long-standing health conditions, from which they may never fully recover.

“As a result, the seriousness of these issues should never be underestimated and it is vital that authorities work quickly and thoroughly to determine the cause of the outbreak.”

PHE is investigating 55 cases in Hampshire, including 32 at the Real China, although it would not break down the location of the other incidents.

The investigation stretches as far as London, the West Midlands, Cheshire and Merseyside.

It said cases occurred in “isolated clusters” over several months but they could potentially be linked to a single food source.

Management at The Real China have carried out a thorough deep clean of the Swan Centre complex premises, and have reviewed their working practices.

Eastleigh Borough Council said that there is no longer a significant health risk, and the restaurant reopened on July 31.

Lawyer Chris Baxendale, of Slater & Gordon solicitors, who is representing 23-year-old victim Amanda Clothier, said: “We are now building a case against the restaurant but would appeal for anyone who suspects they too had salmonella poisoning as a result of eating at the restaurant to contact me.”