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Legionnaires’ disease outbreak in Edinburgh, Scotland: ECDC assesses risk

14 Jun 2012
Rapid risk assessment: Outbreak of Legionnaires' disease in Edinburgh, Scotland

ECDC has issued a risk assessment on the community outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Eighty-eight cases of Legionnaires’ disease, of which one was fatal, have occurred in the south-western part of Edinburgh since 24 May 2012.

Although the exact source of the outbreak has not yet been identified, the clustering of cases in the south-western part of Edinburgh and the evolving number of cases suggests an outbreak from an outdoor source such as an industrial cooling tower in this part of the city. Environmental investigations to confirm the source and treatment of local cooling towers in the area are ongoing.

In the absence of an identified and controlled source of Legionella, there may be an ongoing risk of exposure for persons living or visiting the area, although the risk is assessed to be low for the general public due to implemented control measures. As Legionnaires’ disease cannot be transmitted from human to human, the risk for the rest of the EU remains limited to people that have spent some time in the affected areas of Edinburgh.

The Scottish authorities addressed the need to inform the general public about their potential exposure to Legionella by setting up a telephone hotline. Timely diagnosis and appropriate treatment are particularly important for persons above 40 years of age, smokers and immunocompromised persons, because there is a higher risk of them developing complications.

Read the risk assessment: ‘A community outbreak of Legionnaires' disease in Edinburgh, Scotland

Read more:
Legionnaires’ disease health topic site
ELDSNet Surveillance Network
Legionnaires’ Disease Surveillance Report 2009
European Legionnaires’ Disease Surveillance Network (ELDSNet) - Operating procedures

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