A man dies in outbreak of Legionnaires' disease in Scotland

Legionnaires' disease has claimed the life of one man in Scotland.
Legionnaires' disease has claimed the life of one man in Scotland. Photo:

One man has died and 15 people are in a critical condition in hospital following an outbreak of Legionnaires' disease in Scotland.

A further 15 suspected cases are being investigated in Edinburgh, NHS Lothian said. The health board said the patient who died was in his 50s and had underlying health

conditions. He was being being treated at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh.

Thirteen men and two women aged between 33 and 74 are in a critical condition with the disease and are being treated in intensive care in hospitals in the Lothian area. One man has recovered and has been discharged.

A further 10 men and five women are also being treated in hospitals but their illness has not yet been confirmed.

Health Editor Lawrence McGinty reports:

What is Legionnaires' disease?

  • Legionnaires' disease is contracted by inhaling small droplets of contaminated water
  • Symptoms include mild headaches, muscle pain, fever, a persistent cough and sometimes vomiting and diarrhoea
  • Symptoms can begin any time between two and 14 days after exposure to the bacteria
  • The condition is not contagious and cannot be spread directly from person to person
  • The first case was identified on Thursday May 2

For more information about the disease, click here.

Dr Duncan McCormick, consultant in public health medicine and chair of the Incident Management Team, told Daybreak that authorities are speaking to family's who have contracted the disease.

The majority of the confirmed cases are linked geographically to the Dalry, Gorgie and Saughton areas in the south west of the Scottish capital.Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon will chair a meeting of the Scottish Government's Resilience Committee this morning, where she will be updated on the situation and on efforts to identify the source.

The source of the outbreak is being investigated by officials from the City of Edinburgh Council's Environmental Health Department and the Health and Safety Executive.

Samples have been taken from cooling towers in the south west of the city, though it may be up to 10 days before results are available as Legionella is a difficult bacteria to culture.

Those responsible for maintenance at the cooling towers have been advised to carry out additional chemical treatment to the water in the cooling systems as a precautionary measure.The health board said other possible sources were not being ruled out.