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Increase of Legionnaires’ disease cases associated with travel to Dubai

23 Dec 2016

​An increase of cases of Legionnaires’ disease, compared to previous years, is reported in EU travellers returning from Dubai. A total of 26 cases with onset of illness since 1 October 2016 has been reported.  The majority of reported cases are associated with different accommodations spread geographically across Dubai. This suggests that cases were exposed to a common source in the wider environment and not associated with accommodation sites. This is supported by the fact that samples collected at the accommodation sites where the affected travellers stayed were reported as negative for Legionella bacteria. The increase in cases cannot be fully explained by the rise in the number of European travellers to Dubai.

ECDC encourages investigations of travel associated cases of Legionnaires’ disease that has travelled to Dubai. Data collection is ongoing in affected EU countries to collate information on new cases, with a focus on possible places of exposure in Dubai, and on the way to and from Dubai. It is important to quickly communicate information about potential infection sites to the local health authorities in Dubai in order to support to the continued investigation to identify the sources of the infection.

Legionnaires’ disease particularly effects those above 50 years of age, smokers and immunocompromised persons. To ensure early diagnosis and treatment these travellers should be informed to seek medical advice if they experience respiratory infection symptoms up to two weeks after travelling to Dubai. As Legionnaires’ disease cannot be transmitted from human to human, there is no risk of further spread of the disease when affected travellers return to Europe.

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