Man dies and 15 critical after Edinburgh outbreak of Legionnaires' disease

 

One man has died and 15 people are in a critical condition in hospital following an outbreak of Legionnaires' disease.

A further 15 suspected cases are being investigated in Edinburgh, NHS Lothian said.

The health board said the patient who died was in his 50s and had underlying health conditions. He was being being treated at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh.

Thirteen men and two women aged between 33 and 74 are in a critical condition with the disease and are being treated in intensive care in hospitals in the Lothian area. One man has recovered and has been discharged.

A further 10 men and five women are also being treated in hospitals but their illness has not yet been confirmed.

The majority of the confirmed cases are linked geographically to the Dalry, Gorgie and Saughton areas in the south west of the Scottish capital.

Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon will chair a meeting of the Scottish Government's Resilience Committee this morning, where she will be updated on the situation and on efforts to identify the source.

Dr Duncan McCormick, consultant in public health medicine and chairman of the incident management team at NHS Lothian, said: "I would like to express my sincere condolences to the family of the patient that died.

"Investigations into the possible source of this outbreak are on-going. Meanwhile, medical staff have been actively identifying possible cases to allow us to ascertain the full extent of this outbreak.

"I would like to reassure the public that household water supplies are safe and that Legionnaires' disease cannot be contracted by drinking water.

"Older people, particularly men, heavy smokers and those with other health conditions, are at greater risk of contracting the disease. I would urge anyone who develops symptoms of Legionnaires' disease to contact NHS 24 or their GP."

The health board said Legionella bacteria is commonly found in sources of water, such as rivers and lakes.

The bacteria can end up in artificial water supply systems, including air conditioning systems, water services and cooling towers.

Legionnaires' disease is contracted by breathing in small droplets of contaminated water.

Symptoms include mild headaches, muscle pain, fever, a persistent cough and sometimes vomiting and diarrhoea, and can begin any time between two and 14 days after exposure to the bacteria. The first case was identified on Thursday May 28.

About half of those who contract the disease will also experience changes to their mental state, such as confusion.

The condition is not contagious and cannot be spread directly from person to person.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: "Our thoughts are with patients and their families at this time and, in particular, with the family of the patient who has very sadly died.

"NHS Lothian and Health Protection Scotland are taking all appropriate steps to manage this situation and are working closely with Edinburgh City Council and the Health & Safety Executive to identify the source as quickly as possible.

"A number of cooling towers in the area have already been subject to chemical treatment.

"The Health Secretary - who has been kept closely informed of all developments - will chair a meeting of the Scottish Government's Resilience Committee tomorrow morning, at which she will be further updated on the situation and on the progress of efforts to identify the source.

"The Scottish Government would like to reassure the public that everything possible is being done to identify the source and anyone with health concerns is advised to contact NHS 24 or their GP."

Shadow Scottish Health Secretary Jackie Baillie also added her condolences.

She said: "Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of the man who has sadly lost his life.

"We must now find out the source of this outbreak as quickly as possible to ensure it is contained and there are no other victims."

The source of the outbreak is being investigated by officials from the City of Edinburgh Council's Environmental Health Department and the Health and Safety Executive.

Samples have been taken from cooling towers in the south west of the city, though it may be up to 10 days before results are available as Legionella is a difficult bacteria to culture.

Those responsible for maintenance at the cooling towers have been advised to carry out additional chemical treatment to the water in the cooling systems as a precautionary measure.

The health board said other possible sources were not being ruled out.

PA

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

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

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Experienced Bookkeeper - German Speaking - Part Time

    £23000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This firm of accountants based ...

    Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

    £30000 - £38000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are a financial services c...

    Ashdown Group: Field Service Engineer

    £30000 - £32000 per annum + car allowance and on call: Ashdown Group: A succes...

    Recruitment Genius: Sales & Marketing Co-Ordinator

    £15000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Well established small company ...

    Day In a Page

    Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

    Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

    How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
    Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

    Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

    Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
    Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

    Aviation history is littered with grand failures

    But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
    Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

    Fortress Europe?

    Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
    Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

    Never mind what you're wearing

    It's what you're reclining on that matters
    General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

    Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

    The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
    Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

    Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

    Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
    Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

    Marginal Streets project documents voters

    Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
    Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

    The real-life kingdom of Westeros

    Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
    How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

    How to survive a Twitter mauling

    Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
    Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

    At dawn, the young remember the young

    A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

    Follow the money as never before

    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

    Samuel West interview

    The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
    General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence