Thursday 14 September 2017

Legionnaires' Disease outbreak linked to Shropshire hotel.

A woman has died and another has been treated in hospital after apparently contracting Legionnaires' Disease at a hotel in Shropshire, England. The woman who died is described as having been in her 60s, stayed in the historic Feathers Hotel in Ludlow in July this year, and subsequently fell ill and died in August. The surviving woman, in her 70s, received treatment in a Mersyside hospital after falling ill in April following a stay at the hotel, and is now understood to have recovered. Due to the long gestation of the illness it can take time to uncover the origin of the infection, but tests carried out by Public Health England's West Midlands Health Protection Team isolated the Bacterium that causes the disease in water samples from the hotel on Monday 11 September 2017. The hotel has closed voluntarily and is contacting recent guests urging them to seek medical advice. 
 The historic Feathers Hotel in Ludlow, England, temporarily closed due to an outbreak of Legionnaire's Disease. Grand Tour of the Middling Sort.

Legionnaire's Disease is caused by Bacteria of the genus Legionella. Symptoms typically include shortness of breath, muscle pains, headaches, fever, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhoea. It can also lead to pneumonia, which is the main cause of fatalities. The Bacteria are naturally occurring in soil and freshwater systems, but infection in humans generally comes from standing water within plumbing systems, such as water storage systems, air conditioning units, or pipes to taps which have been disconnected or are seldom used and which remain attached to the main water system, which provide an ideal breeding ground for the Bacteria. Since gestation of the disease is typically between 10 and 20 days, and most victims only suffer mild flu-like symptoms, tracing the cause of infection can be notoriously difficult.

Colony of Legionella pneumophila, one of the main causes of Legionnaire's Disease. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention/Wikipedia.

Legionella Bacteria are Gram-negative, aerobic, flagellated Gammaproteobacteria, related to other pathogenic Bacteria such as Yersina pestis (Bubonic Plague), Vibrio cholerae (Cholera), and Esherchia coli (food poisoning). They naturally occur within biofilms made by freshwater Amoeba, particularly at warmer temperatures (above about 25°C) rather than by being obligate pathogens, but can become problematic when these films form within Human-made water systems. Since the first known outbreak of Legionnaire's Disease occurred in 1976, and the disease was not understood for some time after this, many older buildings have plumbing systems that were not designed with this problem in mind.

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