Legionella outbreak: Third man dies from Legionnaires disease

Three people have died from the diseases so far, with 99 still ill
Three people have died from the diseases so far, with 99 still ill
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A THIRD man being treated for Legionnaires’ disease has died, health officials revealed.

• 99 people still suffering from Legionnaires’ Disease

• Investigators still trying to locate exact source of the bug, believed to have originated in west Edinburgh

• Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon believes the outbreak has ‘peaked’

The man, in his sixties, had been unwell for some time and had been treated since the outbreak began at the end of May.

He lived in the south-west of Edinburgh, where the latest outbreak is believed to have started.

Two other men, also from Edinburgh, died last month. Three people are in intensive care with the bug and a further six are being treated in hospital.

Health secretary Nicola Sturgeon said there was no evidence to suggest the outbreak had not already peaked.

She said: “My sincere condolences go to the family and friends of the patient who has passed away, and my thoughts are with them at this very difficult time.

“It is important to stress that strong evidence still suggests that all cases are associated with the suspected period of exposure and that the outbreak has peaked.

“I repeat the message that anyone in the affected areas suffering from symptoms since the outbreak began should contact their GP or the NHS 24.”

The man was one of 49 people suspected as having the disease. Another 50 people have been confirmed as having been infected. The 50 include ten being treated outside the Edinburgh area, but they are all believed to have visited the city in recent weeks.

The majority of the confirmed cases are linked geographically to the Dalry, Gorgie and Saughton areas of the city.

Investigators are still trying to locate where the outbreak began and industrial cooling towers remain the main focus of their inquiries.

Sixteen water cooling towers in the south-west of Edinburgh have already been treated with a range of chemicals to kill any bacteria.

The disease, which is not contagious and cannot be spread directly from person to person, is caught by breathing in small droplets of contaminated water.

Police, the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service are involved in the investigation.

Dr Christine Evans, Consultant in Public Health Medicine at NHS Lothian, said: “We continue to see a small number of cases or suspected cases coming forward.

“I would like to reassure the public that this is in line with expectations. All of these patients have been ill for some time and have links to the south west of Edinburgh.”

One of the men who died, Bert Aird, 56, passed away just hours after being admitted to Edinburgh Royal Infirmary. He had been working as a builder in the Gorgie area of the city. The second man to die was also from the same area and also had underlying health conditions, health officials said.

A number of organisations have been served with Health and Safety Improvement Notices as part of the ongoing investigation to find the source.

Symptoms of legionella include fever, confusion and shortness of breath, but also sometimes vomiting and diarrhoea.

More men than women contract the disease, but those who may experience a more severe form of infection include the elderly, smokers, diabetes sufferers, those with kidney disease and cancer patients.

An estimated 10 per cent of people who contract Legionnaires’ disease will die from complications arising from infection.

The condition is treated by intravenous antibiotics.