Legionnaires' disease outbreak investigation toolbox

Download Page

Data requirements and considerations

GIS provide us with a unique ability to understand the spatial and temporal context of disease outbreaks such as Legionnaires' disease. However, the value of Legionnaires' disease outbreak is largely determined by the availability, quality and consistency of relevant data. The following sections discuss the specific spatial data requirements for Legionnaires' disease outbreak investigation and also some of the more practical considerations that must be taken into account in relation to spatial data management. It should be recognised that it may not always be possible to collect data to the degree of detail outlined in this document, however where possible the following data should be collected and stored within a GIS environment:

2.1 Case data

Data collected for each Legionnaires' disease case should include: locations visited (home, work, etc.), time spent at locations, travel routes taken between locations, method of transport, Legionnaires' disease typing data.

2.2 Potential outbreak source locations

Locations of potential outbreak sources should be collected such as cooling towers and other aerosol emitting facilities.

2.3 Demographic data

Demographic data attached to administrative boundaries such as NUTS and LAU's, as well as gridded raster population models, can be used to calculate Legionnaires' disease attack rates (including age-specific attack rates) and relative risk to a population.

2.4 Meteorological data

Temperature, humidity, atmospheric stability, wind speed and direction can all be incorporated into plume models attempting to model the dispersal of contaminated aerosols from potential outbreak source locations.

2.5 Spatial data structure and interoperability

A number of factors such as data schemas, data format, and geographic projections can all complicate the collection, sharing and analysis of spatial data.


The INSPIRE directive aims to create a European Union (EU) spatial data infrastructure. This will enable the sharing of environmental spatial information among public sector organisations and better facilitate public access to spatial information across Europe.