Legionella outbreak in Lisbon area lands 90 in hospital, kills 1

November 10, 2014 9:10 am 

LISBON, Nov. 10 — An outbreak of the legionella bacteria, which causes a type of pneumonia known as Legionnaire's disease, has hospitalized 90 people in the greater Lisbon area in portugal and killed one man since cases began to be reported on Friday, according to local news reports.

The Portuguese authorities are seeking out the source of the outbreak, which is focused on an area on the outskirts of the Portuguese capital, near the neighboring city of Vila Franca.

Of the 90 people hospitalized, one, a man aged 59 with a history of lung problems has died, and 16 others are in critical condition.

Portugal's National Health Directorate has taken samples from the area's drinking water supply, ordered disinfection of water tanks.

The Secretary of State for Health has warned the population to avoid taking showers, using Jacuzzis or hot-tubs until the source of the infection has been identified.

Legionella is a waterborne bacterium that infects its human host when water droplets are inhaled into the lungs. Most often the source of infection is cooling towers, air conditioning systems or similar systems in public spaces or buildings such as shopping centers.

Despite warnings that drinking infected water would not lead to infection the Vila Franca population has rushed to buy bottled water for household consumption, with supermarkets and other retailers completely selling out.

Local epidemiologists have said that, as the Legionella bacterium has an incubation period of around two weeks, it is likely more people will show symptoms and end up in hospital even once the source of the infection has been found. (PNA/Xinhua)

JBP/JSD

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