Legionnaires' disease outbreak investigation toolbox

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Insert Name of Area Public Health Team


Legionella Infections in LOCATION- Final Message

Name of local public health team has finished carrying out detailed investigations into all N cases, to try and identify the source of the infection. No further cases are expected to occur microbiologically or epidemiologically linked to the previous cases. [ Insert general descriptive summary of current cases. For example: One of the patients sadly died after being admitted already ill with Legionella infection to the Hospital Name. Of the others being treated in the Hospital Name, one has recovered sufficiently to be allowed home. The remaining original cases are all improving.]

Name of Medic , Position , said:

[ Insert detailed relevant contextual information quoting expert in discipline/locality. For example : " We know the deceased patient had a different strain of Legionella to the others and that the latest case had undergone day surgery in the Hospital Name but this was at the extreme end of the possible incubation period, making this unlikely as the source of infection.

"There remains no evidence that the cases are linked/There is sufficient evidence to suggest the source of contamination was SITE XXX which has been closed and cleaned."]

Notes to Editors:

1. Legionnaires' disease is pneumonia, caused by the bacterium Legionella pneumophila. The majority of cases are reported as single (isolated) cases but outbreaks can occur. Some 5000 cases are reported annually across the EU and EEA/EFTA countries. All ages can be affected, but it mainly affects people over 50 years of age, and generally men more than women and more often, smokers.

2. The incubation period ranges from 2 to 14 days. In rare cases some people may develop symptoms as late as three weeks after exposure. It cannot be passed from person to person. Outbreaks may have a source of infection in common but most cases are 'sporadic' i.e. with no links to a common source or strain of the Legionella bacteria.

3. The symptoms of Legionnaires' disease include a 'flu-like' illness with muscle aches, tiredness, headaches, dry cough and fever, leading on to pneumonia. Sometimes diarrhoea occurs and patients may suffer from confusion. It can be treated with antibiotics. People should be advised to seek medical attention if they have a respiratory illness suggestive of Legionnaires' disease.

4. Legionella bacteria are widely distributed in the environment. Systems linked to outbreaks have included: cooling towers; evaporative condensers; hot and cold water systems; spa pools; humidifiers in food display cabinets; effluent treatment plants; air scrubbers.

Media enquiries to:

Name of Communications team or person