PUBLIC health bosses today moved to reassure residents after it was revealed four people in the Grimsby area are being treated for the potentially-deadly Legionnaires’ disease.
Health officials are investigating four confirmed cases in the town, possibly linked to Freeman Street, as reported on itvnews.com
Dr Simon Padfield, Consultant in Communicable Disease Control with Public Health England in Humberside said no common links between the four cases had yet been identified and that all GPs in the area had been put on alert for any other possible cases.
He said: “These four cases have all been confirmed since July 27 and Legionnaires’ disease is fairly uncommon, so this is unusual and we are investigating further.
All four Legionnaires’ disease sufferers in Grimsby had spent time in Freeman Street area
“We are working closely with North East Lincolnshire Council, the Health and Safety Executive and the NHS in North East Lincolnshire to investigate any possible sources of infection. No source has been identified to date.”
He said: “All four cases are currently recovering. Family doctors in the area have been contacted to ask them to be vigilant for patients with symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease.
“As cooling towers can often be associated with the spread of legionella bacteria, we will also be contacting operators of major cooling towers in the area to ask them to introduce additional cleaning measures. However, I should stress that no particular cooling tower has been identified as a potential source of infection at this time.”
The early symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease are similar to those of ‘flu-like’ illnesses that circulate frequently within the community and include muscle aches, tiredness, headaches, dry cough and fever.
Diarrhoea and confusion may also occur.
The disease causes a severe pneumonia and as the pneumonia progresses, shortness of breath and chest pain develops.
The disease can be treated with antibiotics and most cases make a full recovery, although it can lead to death in 10 to 15 per cent of cases among the general population – more in some higher risk groups.
The incubation period can range from two to 19 days with a median of six to seven days after exposure.
The bacteria can live in all types of water including both natural sources such as rivers and streams, and artificial water sources such as water towers associated with cooling systems, hot and cold water systems and spa pools. They only become a risk to health when the temperature allows the legionellae to grow rapidly, such as in water systems which are not properly designed, installed, and or maintained.
Dr Padfield added: “It is important to stress that Legionnaires’ disease does not spread from person to person and the wider risk to public health is currently low.
“There is no need for anyone who is well or only mildly unwell with symptoms of respiratory illness to see their GP.
“People should continue to use health services and seek medical attention if respiratory symptoms worsen, as they would normally.”
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