Edinburgh: wave of Legionnaires' disease

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Legionnaires' disease in Edinburgh kills first victim

In Edinburgh, Scotland, many people have contracted Legionnaires' disease. One patient has already died as a result of the disease, 16 people are in critical condition and are therefore being hospitalized, the Edinburgh Environmental Health Department reports.

Scottish Health Minister Nicola Sturgeon was concerned about the spread of infections in Edinburgh and spoke of the largest wave of infections in Scotland since the 1980s. For example, 16 people between the ages of 33 and 74 are currently being treated in critical care units in hospitals in the Lothian region because of their critical condition. According to the Scottish Minister of Health, a total of 24 infections with Legionnaires' disease have been officially confirmed so far. There are also 27 suspected cases in which the result of the final investigation is still pending. Nicola Sturgeon added that a further increase in the number of infections can be expected in the coming days.

Finding the source of Legionella bacteria Geographically, infections with Legionnaires' disease in Edinburgh are concentrated in the Dalry, Gorgie and Saughton neighborhoods in the south-west of the Scottish capital, the city health authority said. The 56-year-old patient, who had since died, had also been infected here. Dr. Duncan McCormick, chairman of the appointed crisis management team, said that "investigations into the possible cause of this outbreak are ongoing" and meanwhile all cases are being investigated to "determine the full extent of this outbreak." McCormick avoided panic among the population by assuring that "household water supplies are safe and that Legionnaires' disease is not transmitted through drinking water." However, the Legionella bacteria are actually known to be in warm, can reproduce standing water particularly well. Hot water systems in community facilities such as day care centers, hospitals, old people's homes and nursing homes as well as hotels with complex water supply have already been identified in the past as a possible source of the pathogen. Air conditioning systems and the cooling towers of power plants are also considered breeding grounds for the germs. How the dangerous Legionella bacteria and Edinburgh were able to spread is still unclear. Samples were taken from four cooling towers in the city, but it could take ten days to get results, health officials said.

Symptoms of Legionnaires' disease
The pathogens of Legionnaires' disease are transmitted by inhaling tiny droplets (aerosols) of the contaminated water. The infection triggers symptoms such as mild headache, muscle and body aches, fever, as well as a persistent cough and possibly diarrhea, nausea and vomiting, the city's Environmental Health Department in Edinburgh reports. In the later course of Legionnaires' disease, severe pneumonia threatens, which in the worst case can be fatal. The disease can break out at any time between two and 14 days after contact with the bacteria, but is not contagious or cannot be transmitted directly from person to person, according to the city's health authorities and the Scottish National Health Service. (fp)

Also read:
Legionnaires' disease: Danger to life in hotels
Diagnosis: Legionella in drinking water
Drinking water is often contaminated with germs
Stricter controls in the drinking water ordinance
American drinking water contaminated with chrome

Image: Sebastian Karkus / pixelio.de

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Video: Edinburgh Battles Legionnaires Disease

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