Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Worst Legionnaires Disease Outbreak in Scotland since the 1980’s

I am saddened by the death of Mr Robert Air, a 56 year old man who died this week in Edinburgh, and the high numbers of those affected, as a result of what has been described as the worst outbreak of Legionnaires Disease in Scotland since the 1980’s

Legionnaires Disease is a potentially fatal disease, which is caught by breathing in small droplets of contaminated water, which causes a range of respiratory illnesses including, in its most serious form, pneumonia.

Outbreaks of the illness occur from exposure to legionella growing in purpose-built systems where water is maintained at a temperature high enough to encourage growth, e.g. cooling towers and hot water systems used in all sorts of premises (work and domestic). It is not a contagious disease which means a person suffering from Legionnaires Disease cannot pass it onto others.

Following the outbreak in Edinburgh, Scottish Health Secretary Ms Nicola Sturgeon said discussions were taking place between the City of Edinburgh Council and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to determine what actions were appropriate. Ms Sturgeon said confirming the source of the outbreak was a "central priority" but it was "an extremely complicated process".

The HSE has increased efforts to find the source of the outbreak. But what must be understood is that it is not always possible to conclusively determine the precise source of an outbreak and in such cases, conclusions have to be reached about the source on the basis of the balance of probabilities.  As such several cooling towers in different sites in Edinburgh have therefore been tested and treated by the HSE.

Ms Sturgeon added "Every effort is being made to investigate the potential source of this outbreak”

"... relevant agencies continue to monitor the situation to ensure that all appropriate action is taken to minimise the risk of further infection."

Diagnosis of Legionnaires Disease is not always simple as the symptoms can have different causes. Symptoms can consist of high temperature, fever and chills, muscle pains, nausea, headaches, diarrhoea and more seriously signs of mental confusion. I would advise that if anyone has any concerns that they should consult their GP.

Organisations or self-employed individuals, who are responsible for the water system(s) in their premises, are responsible for ensuring that the risk of exposure to legionella in those premises is properly controlled.

If you or a member of your family has been diagnosed with Legionnaires Disease and would like a free and confidential discussion with one of our specialised Solicitors, please do not hesitate to contact us on 0800 389 1978 or visit our website at You can also follow us on Twitter (@ForsterDeanLtd) and find Forster Dean Solicitors on Facebook

Mofozzul Hussain LLB (Hons) -Office Manager (Birkenhead) and Personal Injury Solicitor

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