Second death linked to Legionnaires' disease outbreak

Legionella bacteria
Image caption Legionnaires' disease cannot be passed from person to person

Officials are investigating a second death being linked to a Legionnaires' disease outbreak in south Wales.

The death of a 70-year-old man follows that of a woman, aged 64, who was from Pontypridd.

Both died from Legionnaires', but doctors are trying to establish if they are linked to the main cluster around the south Wales valleys and Cardiff.

There are now 14 cases linked to the outbreak, with a further three possible cases under investigation.

Inquiries are continuing into the source of the illness, clustered around the Heads of the Valleys corridor .

The focus is on industrial premises and large air conditioning systems.

Information has been circulated to GPs advising what steps should be taken if patients have symptoms.

Public Health Wales, the Health and Safety Executive and seven council areas are involved in the investigation.

Dr Gwen Lowe, consultant in communicable disease control for Public Health Wales, said: "Legionnaires' disease is a rare but potentially life threatening illness.

"Most of the cases of Legionnaires' disease that are notified to us are isolated cases, but outbreaks can occur.

"People become infected when they inhale Legionella bacteria which are spread through the air in the form of a fine mist or droplets from a contaminated water source.

"Legionnaires' disease cannot be passed from person to person."

The disease begins with flu-like symptoms and can lead to pneumonia, usually in adults.

Anyone worried about their health should contact their GP.

The councils involved in the investigation include Cardiff, Merthyr Tydfil, Rhondda Cynon Taf, Caerphilly, Blaenau Gwent, Torfaen and Monmouthshire.

Last year, there were 24 confirmed cases of Legionnaires' disease in Wales, most of which were sporadic. On average, Wales has about 13 cases each year.

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