The bacteria that causes Legionnaires’ disease has been discovered in the water supply of a Scottish hospital.
Patients have been urged to avoid using the drinking taps and have been given bottled water as a precaution while investigations are ongoing.
Staff hand washing facilities are also off limits during this spell.
Hospital chiefs say that no patients have so far shown any signs of infection since the bacteria was identified.
Patients have previously been cared for inside the affected wards are being contacted to let them know about the risk.
What is Legionnaires’ disease?
Legionnaires’ disease is a lung infection that you may contract by breathing in tiny droplets of water containing the bacteria that causes the infection.
It is usually caught in places like hotels, hospitals or offices where the bacteria has gotten into the water supply.
The NHS says that the condition is uncommon but it can be very serious.
World Health Organisation experts say that the death rate may be as high at 40-80% in untreated immune-suppressed patients and can be reduced to 5-30% through appropriate case management and depending on the severity of the clinical signs and symptoms.
Overall the death rate is usually within the range of 5–10%.
Where can you get Legionnaires’ disease?
The NHS says that Legionnaires’ disease is usually found in the likes of air conditioning systems, humidifiers, spa pools, hot tubs, taps and showers that are not used often.
It is said to be less common to catch it at home.
Did you know you can keep up to date with the latest news by signing up to our daily newsletter?
We send a morning and lunchtime newsletter covering the latest headlines every day.
We also send coronavirus updates at 5pm on weekdays, and a round up of the week’s must-read stories on Sunday afternoons.
Signing up is simple, easy and free.
You can pop your email address into the sign up box above, hit Subscribe and we’ll do the rest.
Alternatively, you can sign up and check out the rest of our newsletters here.
What are the symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease?
The World Health Organisation says that Legionnaires disease has an incubation period of two to 10 days – but up to 16 days has been recorded in some outbreaks.
Initially symptoms are fever, loss of appetite, headache, malaise and lethargy. Some patients may also have muscle pain, diarrhoea and confusion.
There is also usually an initial mid cough, but as many as half of patients can present phlegm.
Untreated Legionnaires’ disease usually worsens during the first week.
Other symptoms include:
- Difficulty breathing
- These pain
- A high temperature
- Flu-like symptoms
What should you do if you contract Legionnaires’ disease?
The NHS urges anyone who believes they have the condition to phone NHS24 on 111. Staff at the helpline may put you in touch with a doctor or a nurse to assist you in the next steps.
A medical expert may advise you to go to hospital if you have been diagnosed with the condition.
Treatment at the hospital includes antibiotics given directly into a vein, oxygen through a face mask or tubes in your nose or a machine to help you breathe.
Once patients start to feel better, antibiotic treatment may continue at home through tablets – this usually last around one to three weeks.
Most Scots who have come down with the condition usually make a full recovery, but it might take further time to feel back to normal.