Edinburgh Legionella Outbreak Kills A Man Leaving up to 80 Ill

A man in his 50s has been killed by a Legionella outbreak in Edinburgh.  The man, Robert Air worked on a local construction site.  At least 80 are confirmed or suspected to be affected by the bug.

Health service officers are doing their utmost to pinpoint exactly where the victims had contracted Legionnaires’ disease as the location is not yet confirmed.  The bacterium responsible are thought to have been spread from industrial water cooling towers in the south-west of the city (as most of those affected have come from that area) though until more tests have been completed, another source could not be ruled out.

16 water cooling towers at 4 facilities have been subject to legionella control measures since the outbreak in order to try to prevent further contamination.  Cooling towers at a local distillery have been closed as they are alleged to be at the centre of the outbreak.  A notice to improve legionella control measures at the facility has been served.  Water samples have been taken from each location.

Dr Duncan McCormick publicly offered his condolences to the victim’s family.  In his capacity as NHS Lothian’s consultant in public health medicine / chair of the incident management team issued the following statement:

“Investigations into the possible source of this outbreak are on-going. 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.”

Such symptoms as confusion, headaches accompanied by a fever, muscular discomfort, coughing and often nausea/vomiting and diarrhoea should be taken seriously and reported to the local Accident and Emergency ward or GP as soon as possible.  While the condition is non-communicable, symptoms may rapidly worsen and can – as has unfortunately been the case on this occasion – lead to fatalities.

According to hospital sources, 16 cases are being treated in the community.



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