Health officials in Scotland have officially declared the end of an outbreak of Legionnaire’s disease in Edinburgh. The outbreak began in late May and resulted in fifty-three confirmed cases, forty-eight suspected cases, and three deaths.
While some patients are still receiving treatment for the disease, experts believe the normal waiting period for such an outbreak has passed, and the number of new cases has been dropping over the past few weeks. However, they do expect more individuals who were already sick to present themselves.
The source of the outbreak still has not been identified, but an investigation continues in Edinburgh. Experts have cautioned that it is possible that they will never definitively pinpoint the source of the outbreak. Water cooling towers in the southwest of the city are currently suspected as a possible source of the bacteria.
Officials have asked that the community cooperate with the investigation. Dr. Alison McCallum, director of public health and health policy at NHS Lothian, stated, “We hope that people who are approached to participate in these studies will come forward and help us with this significant piece of research.” Officials are also continuing to study this outbreak in order to create recommendations for future prevention and response.
Legionnaire’s disease is caused by the bacterium Legionella which infects the lungs. The bacteria grow in warm water and are transmitted by tiny droplets of vaporized water that contain the bacteria. Legionnaire’s disease, named for an outbreak of the disease at a convention of the American Legion in 1976, is not contagious from person to person.
For more information on the disease and the start of the outbreak in Edinburgh, please refer to HealthMap’s piece on the subject.