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article imageScottish Legionnaire's outbreak gets worse

By Amanda Payne     Jun 8, 2012 in Health
Edinburgh - One man has died and there are now 28 confirmed cases with a further 46 suspected cases of Legionnaire's disease in Edinburgh, Scotland's capital city.
Health officials are still trying to find the source of the bacteria with the North British Distillery the latest site to be closed and its cooling towers tested and treated. According to the Guardian newspaper, a spokesman for the owners of the distillery said:
"Our thoughts are clearly with the families of those affected by this situation. Ensuring the health and safety of our employees and the local community is our highest priority. Having reviewed the current situation, we have voluntarily taken our cooling towers offline until the legionella results from samples taken earlier this week are reported. While this precautionary operation is under way we have temporarily ceased distillation".
The Scotsman reports that the patient who died was 56-year-old Robert Air from Edinburgh. The paper says that fourteen of the cases are being treated in intensive care whilst a further 30 are in general wards. Some patients are being treated at hospitals away from Edinburgh although all the cases are believed to have contracted the disease from the same source.
The Independent says that the incident management team of the Lothian NHS expects the number of cases to peak at the weekend. Dr Duncan McCormick, chair of the team, says :
"We expect that the numbers of patients affected will peak over the weekend and then begin to fall as we move into the beginning of next week. The majority of patients who are presenting now are also on the lower end of the sickness scale and are therefore more likely to be treated in the community with appropriate care than be admitted into hospital, meaning that they are also unlikely to have underlying health conditions".
Other experts are saying, however, that it will depend whether the cooling towers that have been isolated and treated are actually the source of the outbreak, as the disease takes some time to present and it appears that the third weekend in May was the time when infection took place. If the cooling towers were the source, then the number of patients will drop off and the severity of the illness they have will be much less. If the source has not been treated, then the number of cases will continue to rise.
As reported by Digital Journal, Legionnaire's disease is not passed from person to person. The infection is caused by breathing in droplets of water that have the bacteria in them and the severity of the illness that the infected person will suffer will depend on their overall health, with those with underlying health problems more likely to be badly affected.
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