Legionnaires’ disease still rampant in the Scottish capital
8th June 2012
The source of the recent outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease in Edinburgh has still yet to be identified, according to Scottish health officials. Legionnaires’ disease is a potentially fatal lung infection that is caused by very low levels of legionella bacteria within water sources like lakes and rivers. The bacteria can make its way into artificial water supply systems such as cooling towers, hot and cold water services and air conditioning systems. Places such as hospitals, hotels, office towers and other large buildings may be more susceptible to contamination of the bacteria as they typically have larger water supply systems where the bacteria can quickly multiply. However the lung infection is not contagious and can’t be transferred from one person to another. The first obvious symptoms of the condition are very similar to the flu and include muscular pain and a high fever. Once the bacteria reach the lungs however, the sufferer will then develop a constant cough. The condition is three times more common in men compared to women, and it usually found to be more prevalent in those over 50 years old. It can be dangerous for those with pre-existing health problems and the elderly. The recent outbreak in Scotland has seen 24 confirmed cases of the disease and 37 more are suspected.  A further 12 people have been admitted to intensive care in the Scottish capital. So far, there has been just the one death, with a 56 year old male unfortunately passing away whilst undergoing treatment for the disease. Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon tried to stop any widespread panic and said, “The key message is that the risk to public health is low. Nevertheless, there are a significant number of cases. All appropriate action is being taken to minimize the risk of further infection.” The investigation now is centred in an industrial area of the city and officials are focusing their efforts on 16 cooling towers located in the southwest of Edinburgh. The towers were chemically cleaned at the beginning of the week, in an operation than spanned two days. The source of the outbreak has yet to be pin-pointed though. Nicola Sturgeon has warned that it may never be possible to deduce the specific location the outbreak began from.