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Source of Legionnaires' outbreak sought

9th September 2010

Health officials are investigating an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease in South Wales.

legionnaires

The probe is now focusing on industrial premises with large air conditioning systems after the death of a 64-year-old woman and 12 cases linked to the outbreak needing hospital treatment.

The source of the illness is believed to be around the Heads of the Valleys corridor with Public Health Wales (PHW), the Health and Safety Executive and seven council areas involved in the investigation.

Dr Gwen Lowe, consultant in communicable disease control for PHW, said: "Legionnaires' disease is a rare but potentially life threatening illness.

"Most of the cases of Legionnaires' disease that are notified to us are isolated cases, but outbreaks can occur. People become infected when they inhale Legionella bacteria which are spread through the air in the form of a fine mist or droplets from a contaminated water source.”

But she stressed that Legionnaires' disease can not be passed on from one person to another.
PHW said 12 cases needing hospital treatment had been identified as being linked to the outbreak with two more possible cases under investigation.

PHW consultant epidemiologist Dr Brendan Mason said: "The critical thing is to find source so it can be removed and then no-one else is put at risk.

“We need to look very carefully at the precise movements of the cases in that period before they became unwell and we then look for common links between them in an attempt to narrow down the search for a source.”

 

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