Mystery illness kills 14

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The Independent Online
A mysterious pneumonia-like epidemic that has swept a small town near Madrid for eight weeks claimed two more victims at the weekend, bringing the death toll to 14. The latest victim, a woman of 41, is the first non- elderly person to be felled by the bacteria, thought to those which cause Legionnaire's disease.

More than 260 people in Alcala de Henares have been treated since late August, and 33 remain ill in hospital.

A committee of experts announced on Friday that "legionella" bacteria had lodged in Alcala's municipal water supplies and affected six refrigerated air-cooling towers north of the town. Once vaporised and expelled into the atmosphere, the bacteria formed a dangerously infectious environment. Most of those stricken live in the area around the cooling units.