A Legionnaires’ outbreak has killed a man in Scotland, but public health officials say that residents should not be worried about the quality of drinking water.
The Legionnaires’ outbreak is centralized in Edinburgh, where authorities say between 15 and 17 people have fallen ill with the bacterial infection Legionellosis. Legionnaires’ Disease, so-called due to a Legionnaire’s outbreak during a 1976 American Legion convention in Philadelphia, has a mortality rate of 5% to 30%, and can range up to 50% in certain outbreaks.
The man who was sickened and died in the Edinburgh Legionnaires’ Disease was not named, but is said to have been in his 50′s. According to the BBC, the man also had some health issues that may have complicated the illness.
Dr. Duncan McCormick is a consultant in public health medicine, and he spoke to the BBC about Legionnaires’, and which segments of the population are most at risk:
“I would like to reassure the public that household water supplies are safe and that Legionnaires’ disease cannot be contracted by drinking water. Older people, particularly men, heavy smokers and those with other health conditions, are at greater risk of contracting the disease. I would urge anyone who develops symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease to contact NHS 24 or their GP.”
Legionnaires’ outbreaks are often associated with lakes and rivers, but can also come from cooling towers, which are believed to be a likely source for the recent spate of infections in Edinburgh. Symptoms of Legionnaires’ include muscle pain and fever, along with gastrointestinal symptoms in half of those infected and a “change in mental state” in a third of those sickened during a Legionnaires’ outbreak.