There is currently an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease in Edinburgh, Scotland which began in May. At this time, the 100th victim of the disease has been documented.
The Health Secretary has stated that the latest victim has been “sick for a while,” leading reporters to believe that there are no new cases of this disease cropping up, just lingering cases from the initial outbreak. Officially, of the 100 victims, only 52 have been confirmed as Legionnaires’ Disease, the other 48 are only “suspected.”
Facts And Figures About This Outbreak
- The source of the outbreak is thought to be one of the Lothian cooling towers.
- Three people have died from the infection.
- Currently, two people are in intensive care from the disease.
- Six people are in the general ward of the hospital being treated for symptoms.
- 20 people are being treated for the disease within the community.
- Ten people outside of the Lothian area are being treated for the disease.
- This latest case is the first new case reported in over seven days. This leads health officials to believe that the outbreak is contained, and these are just lingering symptoms.
- More men than women have been affected by the outbreak.
- The range of ages for those affected is between 32 and 85.
What Is Legionnaires’ Disease?
Legionnaires’ Disease is a bacterial infection that can cause mild to severe pneumonia symptoms, or even death. The bacteria are most commonly found in water sources, and are transmitted through the air.
When infected water is disturbed, droplets form and break on various surfaces. While the water dissipates, the bacteria actually remains suspended for a brief period, enabling anyone near the event to inhale the bacteria. On rare occasions, Legionnaires Disease has been transmitted to humans from infected soil. This, however, is very rare.
Poorly ventilated areas and air conditioning units can also enhance the infection by circulating the bacteria in an area where many people are located at any one-given time. Fountains, showers and hot tub areas are also associated with the disease. Legionnaires’ Disease outbreaks most commonly occur in hotels, resorts, on cruise ships, and in convention centre areas because most contain susceptible water systems on their property.
What Are The Symptoms Of Legionnaires Disease?
Symptoms of Legionnaires Disease are very similar to regular pneumonia, which include:
- High fever. Fevers can reach almost critical stage.
- Muscle pain.
- Severe headache.
- Cough that may produce phlegm and possibly signs of blood.
- Shortness of breath and chest pain.
- Fatigue and mental confusion. This symptom usually is more sever in the elderly.
- Loss of appetite.
- Gastrointestinal problems including vomiting.
Symptoms of this disease usually begin to appear two days to two weeks after the initial infection. In many cases, the symptoms will go away without medical treatment. However, severe cases, or those people with compromised immune systems, will require antibiotic treatments.
Pontiac Fever is a mild form of Legionnaires disease that has similar symptoms (but no pneumonia), they usually subside within a couple of days. Symptoms of Pontiac Fever can occur within hours of infection.
Treatments For Legionnaires Disease
Legionnaires’ Disease can be effectively treated using antibiotics and a lot of rest. When the disease first appeared in 1976, doctors tried standard antibiotics like penicillin with little success. However, the medical profession has found that stronger antibiotics do work very good to treat the disease.
What Will Happen In Edinburgh Now?
As health officials aggressively treat those infected with the disease, other departments are cleaning the cooling tower to ensure that the disease is eradicated.
Legionnaires’ Disease is a very erratic infection and it can occur anywhere at any time. There are not any precursors to an infection that could help prevention, except keeping appliances that contain water clean at all times. Frequent cleaning, and the use of chemicals in pools and fountains, is the best way to combat the bacteria.
Legionnaires’ Disease occurrences are not limited to any specific climate or geographical area. Breakouts occur around the world and at any given time. However, more occurrences happen during the summer and early fall when water temperatures are at their warmest.