HSE investigates Legionnaires' disease outbreak
06 June 2012
Posted by John Bull
An outbreak of Legionnaires' disease, which has led to the death of one person, is being investigated by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
The incident led to 30 people being hospitalized and one man has died as a result of contracting the infection in Edinburgh.
A total of 15 suspected cases are being looked into, while 15 men and women are reportedly in critical condition and the city council has also unveiled its own investigation alongside the HSE exercise to seek the source of the problem.
The man who died was 50 years old and is reported to have had underlying health problems
Industrial water cooling towers have been identified as the potential source of the outbreak, with experts forecasting there could be a rise in cases this week until they taper off.
Action is being taken to tackle the problem in the form of additional chemical treatment to water towers, although other possible sources are also being examined.
Anyone displaying possible symptoms of Legionnaire's disease is urged to contact their GP or the NHS as soon as possible, with the majority of confirmed cases connected with the Dalry, Gorgie and Saughton areas of Edinburgh.
"NHS Lothian and Health Protection Scotland are taking all appropriate steps to manage this situation and are working closely with Edinburgh City Council and the HSE to identify the source as quickly as possible," stated a spokesperson for the Scottish Government.
Employers and businesses may have to follow strict health and safety standards when it comes to tackling legionella and Legionnaires' disease, particularly if they have manmade water systems on their premises such as cooling towers, hot water systems or spa pools.
Legionnaires' disease is caused by legionella bacteria and can be contracted by breathing in small droplets of water floating in the air that contain them. It is a potentially fatal form of pneumonia and symptoms are similar to those of flu.