Legionnaires' disease outbreak over in Edinburgh

 


An outbreak of Legionnaires' disease in which three people died has been declared over by health officials.

The move follows a review by the incident management team, chaired by NHS Lothian.

The outbreak in Edinburgh, which came to light at the end of May, is thought to have centred on a cluster of cooling towers in the south west of the city.

To date, the total number of confirmed and suspected cases is 101.

It appears that the action taken at the start of the outbreak was effective, health chiefs said.

Nicola Sturgeon, the Scottish Health Secretary, said it is good news that the outbreak has been declared over, although some patients still remain very ill.

Dr Alison McCallum, director of public health and health policy at NHS Lothian, said: "As we have seen over the last week, we can expect further cases who have been ill for some time to continue to come forward, and our increased surveillance will continue.

"However, all the evidence is suggesting that the action taken when the outbreak was first identified was effective and all cases fall within the expected incubation period. So the decision has been made to declare the outbreak over."

Experts are still investigating the exact source of the outbreak, testing and analysing environmental samples taken from potential sources. But officials believe they may never be able to pinpoint the source conclusively.

All of the 101 cases in the outbreak, during which three men died, have links to the south west of Edinburgh.

Lothian and Borders Police and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) are jointly investigating the circumstances of the deaths, under the direction of the Crown Office.

Research is also being carried out "to better understand the full extent of the outbreak", officials said.

A report into what happened, including recommendations for the prevention and control of future outbreaks, is being produced.

Dr McCallum said: "Laboratory work is ongoing to try and identify the source conclusively but, as we have said from the start, it may not be possible to do so. There is also more work to be done to gain a better understanding of the scale of the outbreak and how to manage outbreaks in the future.

"We hope that people who are approached to participate in these studies will come forward and help us with this significant piece of research."

Currently, 53 cases of Legionnaires' disease have been confirmed and 48 are suspected.

Of those people being treated in hospital, two patients are in intensive care and four are on general wards. A total of 20 people are being treated in the community and 61 have been discharged from hospital. Ten people are being treated outside the NHS Lothian area.

Ms Sturgeon said: "It is good news that the outbreak has been declared over and, as we have already seen, the number of new cases has been dropping off over recent weeks.

"We have worked closely with NHS Lothian to ensure the outbreak was well managed, and I would like to pay tribute to NHS staff who have coped extremely well with this situation.

"However, we have to remember that there are some patients who remain extremely ill, and NHS staff are maintaining high-quality care for those patients.

"The Health and Safety Executive and Edinburgh City Council are continuing their investigations into the source of the outbreak."

Legionella bacteria are commonly found in sources of water such as rivers and lakes. They can end up in artificial water supplies such as air conditioning systems, water services and cooling towers.

Legionnaires' disease is contracted by breathing in small droplets of contaminated water. Symptoms are mild headaches, muscle pain, fever, a persistent cough, and sometimes vomiting and diarrhoea, and can begin at any time between two and 14 days after exposure to the bacteria.

About half of those who contract the disease will also experience changes to their mental state, such as confusion. It is not contagious and cannot be spread directly from person to person.

PA

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Technical Author / Multimedia Writer

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This recognized leader in providing software s...

    Recruitment Genius: Clinical Lead / RGN

    £40000 - £42000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

    Recruitment Genius: IT Sales Consultant

    £35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT support company has a n...

    Recruitment Genius: Works Engineer

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A works engineer is required in a progressive ...

    Day In a Page

    Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

    How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

    Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
    Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

    'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

    In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
    Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

    The Arab Spring reversed

    Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
    King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

    Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

    Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
    Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

    Who is Oliver Bonas?

    It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
    Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

    Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

    However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
    60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

    60 years of Scalextric

    Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
    Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

    Why are we addicted to theme parks?

    Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
    Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

    Iran is opening up again to tourists

    After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
    10 best PS4 games

    10 best PS4 games

    Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
    Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

    Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

    Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
    Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

    ‘Can we really just turn away?’

    Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
    Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

    Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

    ... and not just because of Isis vandalism
    Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

    Girl on a Plane

    An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
    Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

    Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

    The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent