One of sixteen people affected by the recent Legionnaires’ Disease outbreak in Stoke on Trent, Staffordshire has died whilst in hospital. A cause of death will now need to be confirmed by the coroner, according to the Health Protection Agency (HPA). No details about the person who has dies have yet been released.
The people who have been affected by the outbreak are all aged between their late forties and mid-seventies.
The University Hospital of North Staffordshire has confirmed that 11 patients are currently being treated by the trust having been confirmed with Legionnaires’ disease. Three patients have been deemed well enough to return home and have been discharged from hospital. A further patient has been transferred to Glenfield Hospital, Leicester and is described as being in a critical but stable condition.
The HPA has been investigating two cases from earlier in the summer which could be related to the current cluster of cases. Although direct links have not yet been identified there have been suspicions of a common cause. The outbreak is not hospital-related.
Investigations into the common cause of the Legionnaires’ disease outbreak involve detailed assessments of the patients’ previous movements to help establish a likely local source of infection.
The HPO are now working alongside the HSE (Health and Safety Executive) and Stoke-on-Trent City council to establish possible sources of the outbreak.
So far the HPO has been identifying, sampling and advising on the disinfection of potential sources of the disease such as cooling towers. They are looking to identify common places visited by those affected.
GP’s based near the locations of the patient’s homes have been contacted and they are now looking out for signs of infection in other people.
The current outbreak follows on from last month’s case in Edinburgh which was believed to have been traced back to a cluster of cooling towers in South-West Edinburgh.
The independent newspaper has recently highlighted that the bacteria, Legionella pneumophila, can lead to human illness if sources such as wet air conditioning systems are not well maintained.
As the problem is regularly associated with water systems it is essential that hot and cold water systems, cooling towers etc. and even small water storage systems in business premises or buildings or outbuildings which are accessible by the public should be checked regularly by a qualified legionella risk assessor.