Legionnaire’s disease outbreak in Edinburgh

Over the last few days news has emerged of a number of cases of Legionnaire’s disease in Edinburgh.

The outbreak has been centred on the Gorgie, Dalry and Saughton areas of Edinburgh and so far NHS Lothian are dealing with over thirty confirmed or suspected cases. 

The Scottish Government’s Health Secretary, Nicola Sturgeon, is due to make a ministerial statement on the issue to Parliament tomorrow morning which I will be attending.  I hope that the statement will provide more clarity on the situation and will detail the action that the Scottish Government is taking to address the situation.  

Legionnaires’ disease, which is not contagious, is contracted by breathing in small droplets of contaminated water.  NHS Lothian have reassured the public that household water supplies are safe and that Legionnaires’ disease cannot be contracted by drinking water.

The bacteria responsible for the disease, Legionella, is commonly found in sources of water, such as rivers and lakes and can end up in artificial water supply systems, including air conditioning systems, water services and cooling towers. At present the source of the outbreak has not been identified but tests are ongoing.

Symptoms include mild headaches, muscle pain, fever, a persistent cough and sometimes vomiting and diarrhoea.  Anyone displaying these symptoms is being advised to contact NHS 24 on 08454 24 24 24 or their GP urgently.