Latest developments in the Legionella outbreak

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All the latest news and updates as medics battle the deadly bug in Edinburgh

Map: what areas across Edinburgh have been affected by the outbreak >>

The bacterium Legionella longbeachae

The bacterium Legionella longbeachae

• National Museum of Scotland served with an Improvement Notice relating to staff training.

• A second man has died, bringing the total number of deaths from the disease to two. The man was thought to have had significant underlying health problems.

• Fears that Capital’s tourist industry has been hit by the legionnaires’ outbreak.

• Scottish Government announces number of suspected legionnaires’ cases had plateaued at 88 for the second day running. Of those, 39 are confirmed and 49 suspected. The number of people discharged from hospital rose to 25.


• Friday June 15: A second man has died from Legionnaires’. The man, who has not been named, was believed to have had underlying health difficulties. It was reported that he was in his 40s, and lived in Gorgie, one of the affected areas.

Five people have started legal proceedings against officials from Edinburgh City Council, NHS Lothian and the Scottish Government, after being infected with the disease. Additionally, the National Museum of Scotland has been served with an Improvement Notice by Edinburgh Council, in relation to staff training and not the on site cooling tower.

• Thursday June 14: One of the 39 people confirmed to have contracted the disease opened legal proceedings against officials over his illness. Terry Holeran said he was demanding answers from NHS Lothian, Edinburgh Council and the Scottish Government about why and how the outbreak had been allowed to happen.

• Wednesday June 13: Fears have been raised over the possibility of Edinburgh’s tourist industry being affected by the bug. The Scottish Government also announced that the number of suspected Legionnaires’ cases had plateaued, remaining at 88 for the second day running, with 39 confirmed and 49 suspected. The number of people discharged from hospital rose to 25.

Tuesday June 12: Test results which may help pinpoint the source of Edinburgh’s legionnaires’ outbreak will be revealed within days.

• Monday June 11: A second company is investigated as one of the potential sources of the lethal outbreak. Macfarlan Smith Ltd is issued with two Improvement Notices – one relating to the cleaning of one of its cooling towers

• Second firm shuts down cooling tower. Health and Safety Executive demands Macfarlan Smith Ltd conduct “thorough cleaning”.

• Number of people thought to be suffering rises to 88.

• Health chiefs confirm that Hearts’ Scottish Cup Final victory parade was exposed to the legionella outbreak

• Alistair Darling raises questions in House of Commons and calls for urgent review of guidelines

• Sunday June 10: NHS Lothian have confirmed that suspected and confirmed cases have, in total, risen to 82

• 15 people remain in intensive care

• The Health and Safety Executive, along with Edinburgh City Council are continuing their investigations into the source of the outbreak

• Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon said: “These latest figures are reassuring, and although it is too early to be definite, they do suggest we are now in the later stages of this outbreak.’

Saturday June 9: The number of confirmed and suspected cases hits 80, comprising 36 confirmed, and 44 suspected cases, down two.

• 42 people are receiving treatment in hospital, with 15 of those in intensive care.

• The North British Distillery has halted production, taken its towers ‘offline’ and shut down entirely as a precaution

• The National Museum of Scotland has been included in the investigation

• There have been some reports that, along with the first victim Bert Air, at least two other people said to be suffering from the disease were regular visitors to the building site Mr Air worked on, in Gorgie Park Road

• Friday June 8: Number of confirmed and suspected cases rises to 74. 28 cases confirmed and 46 people suspected of having the disease. 14 people critically ill

• Legionella victims now in four other health areas outwith NHS Lothian. NHS Tayside and NHS Lanarkshire are now dealing with patients along with health boards the Highlands and North of England.

• HSE serves an Improvement Notice on one of the companies responsible for one of the cooling towers under investigation. The agency said that this does not mean the tower has been identified as the source of the outbreak.

• Health secretary Nicola Sturgeon said new patients being admitted to hospital with symptoms were “less ill” than those seen at the start of the outbreak as a result of quicker detection

• Over 35,000 leaflets have been distributed across the capital warning of the potential signs of the bug

• The ages of the confirmed cases ranges between 33 and 76, with more males than females affected

• Some of the infected attended the Scottish Cup final between Hibernian and Hearts

• Thursday, June 7: The number of confirmed and suspected cases rises to over 60. It is revealed that two further sites are being investigated.

• Wednesday, June 6: Health chiefs reveal that the outbreak is likley to escalate in the coming days

• Tuesday, June 5: Father of two Robert Air becomes the first victim of Legionnaires’ having caught the bug while working as a builder in Gorgie

• Tuesday, June 5: Health chiefs warn the outbreak is likely to get worse before it gets better after confirmed cases rises to six. Efforts to track the source focus on industrial cooling towers in Dalry, Gorgie and Saughton.

Confirmed cases rise to 17 with a further 15 suspected,

• Father of two Robert Air died on Tuesday from the disease. It is suspected he was infected by the bacteria while working on a building site in Gorgie

• Monday, June 4: The Evening News reports that three men are being treated in intensive care, and another in a high dependency unit, with four other suspected cases. All cases are from the south-west of the city.

• Thursday, May 28: The first case of legionnaires’ is identified.


A dedicated NHS 24 helpline has been set up for anyone who fears they may have symptoms of legionnaires. Call 0800 0858 531


What is Legionnaire’s disease?

It is a potentially fatal illness caused by Legionella bacteria.

How is it spread?

It is not spread from person to person. Outbreaks occur when the bacteria grows in purpose-built systems where water is kept at a high temperature, such as spa pools and cooling towers. It is caught by inhaling droplets of water.

There may be mild headaches and muscle pain, followed by more severe symptoms including high fever, more severe muscle pain and chills. A persistent cough may then develop. Some develop stomach problems and confusion.

Who is most at risk?

People over 45 years of age, smokers and heavy drinkers, people with chronic respiratory or kidney disease, and anyone with immune system conditions.

When should I go to my doctors?

If you are in a high-risk group and notice symptoms contact your GP or call NHS 24 on 08454 242424.

What is the treatment?

Antibiotics and intensive care support where necessary.