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Legionnaires’ cases 'link' to wider cluster

Katie Coyne27/09/2018 - 12:57

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PHE testing potential sources
PHE testing potential sources

Two laboratory confirmed cases of Legionnaires’ disease have been reported in Tamworth, Staffordshire by Public Health England West Midlands.

Both patients are recovering but there are concerns they may be linked to four earlier cases, identified in the past six months, and that there may be a wider community cluster.  These four patients have all recovered.

An ongoing investigation is looking into identifying the source of the disease. It is being jointly run by PHE environmental health experts, the Health and Safety Executive, Staffordshire NHS, and Tamworth Borough council.

PHE West Midlands health protection team lead consultant Dr David Kirrage said: ‘While we do not currently have a direct link between these cases, the evidence we have points to the possibility that there is a common source.

‘We are taking detailed histories of the movements of the individuals to see if there are similar patterns which would help to identify a common local source of infection.

‘Legionnaires’ disease is a rare but potentially life-threatening illness. It is caused by a bacterium commonly associated with water systems and cannot be passed from person to person.’ 

The investigation has identified, sampled and advised on the disinfecting of potential sources of infection such as cooling towers in the Tamworth area that could have been visited by those affected.

Healthcare staff, such as GPs, have been alerted in the areas where the patients live.

PHE said the majority of reports are isolated cases but occasionally outbreaks do happen. Each year, between 350-400 cases are reported in England and Wales, mainly in older adults.

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