Update on Legionnaires’ disease clusters associated with a hotel in Spain
- Published on Friday, 20 July 2012 14:45
- Posted by Scott Buckler
The Health Protection Agency (HPA) has been alerted to a further twelve cases of Legionnaires' disease associated with the Diamante Beach Hotel in Calpe, Costa Blanca
Five of the cases are from Belgium and seven from Spain, there have been no additional cases in UK residents since May. This brings the total number of cases associated with this hotel since January 2012 to 33.
This is the third cluster of Legionnaires' cases associated with this hotel in 2012. Since the latest cases came to light, the hotel has again been temporarily closed while investigations to identify the source continue. The HPA continues to monitor the ongoing situation in Spain closely and to support the Spanish public health authorities who are leading on the investigation and management of this incident.
Professor Nick Phin, head of Legionnaires' disease surveillance at the HPA, said: "We are concerned that another cluster of cases has been associated with the same hotel in Spain since the beginning of this year. The HPA is working with the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA), the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and the Spanish authorities to share all necessary information and expertise. It's very important that any potential cases are followed up speedily, potential sources are thoroughly investigated and control measures put in place to minimise the possibility of any new cases occurring.
"Legionnaires' disease cannot be spread from person to person so once a likely source is identified action can be taken immediately, such as a total clean of any water systems, to reduce the risk of further cases".
In light of this new cluster, the ECDC will be visiting the site, along with an expert from the HPA, to collect and share any further information which may assist the Spanish authorities with their investigation.
GPs in England and Wales were alerted to the incident in February 2012 and have been encouraged to look for Legionnaires' disease in any travellers with symptoms of the disease. The Department of Health (DH) also issued an alert in February to NHS health professionals and A&E departments to ensure they are also alert to the signs and symptoms.
In January, 18 people, including 13 UK residents were diagnosed with Legionnaires' following a stay in this hotel. The Spanish authorities investigated the incident and the hotel was temporarily closed while control measures were put in place. A further cluster was reported in May, involving three people, two of which were UK residents. The Spanish health authorities considered the spa pool as the most likely source of infection and control measures were put in place.
Professor Phin, continued: "Around a third to half of all Legionnaires' disease cases reported in the UK are associated with overseas travel. The HPA is reminding medical professionals and members of the public to look out for signs and symptoms of Legionnaires' disease in returning travellers following outbreaks at hotels in Spain and Greece over the past few years.
"Anyone who develops 'flu like' symptoms or shortness of breath within two weeks of returning from an overseas holiday should seek medical advice from NHS Direct or their GP.
"Although the risk of developing Legionnaires' disease is very low it can lead to a severe pneumonia, particularly in vulnerable people, such as the elderly or people with pre-existing health conditions, and it is important to get treated very quickly to reduce the impact of the infection".