5 Dec, 2023 @ 15:17
1 min read

Top Gibraltar scientists still puzzled over source of Legionnaire’s disease that infected four people

THE cause of the four cases of Legionnaire’s Disease remains a mystery in Gibraltar as investigations continue, its government said after a new strategic meeting.

Medical teams have registered no further cases of the illness caused not by drinking contaminated water but by breathing in the bacteria once it has evaporated.

It has made finding out what caused the four cases all the more puzzling, as Legionnaire’s Disease can go from shortness of breath to a full-blown pneumonia.

To try to hone in on the source of the infection, the health protection team once again interviewed the two recovered people.

Two more are still getting treatment for the disease, creating unease in the community on how it took root in the community.

The ministers for health and civil contingencies, Gemma Arias Vasquez and Leslie Bruzon were both at the latest strategic coordinating group on Monday.

They have tried to bring together all the information to locate the bacterial source.

Environment Agency professionals have already started taking samples of possible sources of the infection.

And the Gibraltar Health Authority is raising at the Primary Care Centre and St Bernard’s Hospital.

“If you have worsening shortness of breath or are concerned about your health, please call 111 for a clinical assessment,” Director of Public Health Helen Carter said in a statement.

She reiterated how the bacteria spreads and what people could do to avoid risking infection.

“It’s important to remember that Legionnaire’s Disease can’t be passed from person to person and is circulated by aerosolised droplets of the bacteria, not from drinking water,” Dr Carter reminded.

“Please remember to run any taps that haven’t been opened for more than 7 days for two minutes, and use proper windscreen wash in your vehicles.”

The World Health Organisation said that the Western nations records only ‘about 10-15 cases per million population per year’.

“Of the reported cases, 75–80% are over 50 years and 60–70% are male,” the WHO said.

“Other risk factors include smoking, a history of heavy drinking, pulmonary-related illness, immuno-suppression, and chronic respiratory or renal illnesses.”


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