10 February 2012
The Health Protection Agency (HPA) has this week been alerted by the Spanish public health authorities about a further case of Legionnaires’ Disease in a UK resident who stayed at the Diamante Beach Hotel in Calpe, Costa Blanca, as well as two French cases. This brings the total number of UK residents associated with this cluster to 12, with three deaths.
Friday 3 February, 14.00 hrs
The Health Protection Agency (HPA) has today been alerted by the Spanish public health authorities about two further cases of Legionnaires’ Disease in UK residents who stayed at the Diamante Beach Hotel in Calpe, Costa Blanca. One of these cases is reported to have died. This brings the total number of UK residents associated with this cluster to 11, with three deaths.
The HPA will continue to monitor this situation extremely closely and support the Spanish public health authorities who are leading on the investigation and management of this incident.
Friday 3 February, 10.00 hrs
The Health Protection Agency (HPA) is aware of nine cases of Legionnaires’ disease in English holiday makers associated with the Diamante Beach Hotel in Calpe, Costa Blanca since January 2012, in addition to four Spanish cases so far reported. Subsequently two of the English patients are reported to have died from their illness.
As soon as an association between the hotel and the UK cases was made, the tour operator and British Consulate offered all British guests at the hotel alternative accommodation and advised them to be aware of the signs and symptoms of Legionnaires’ Disease.
The Spanish health authorities assessed the hotel and implemented control measures, including disinfection of the water system, which can harbour the legionella bacteria that causes legionnaires’.
The Spanish health authorities and an independent consultant commissioned by the tour operator have carried out investigations at the hotel and the water system is considered to be the most likely source of the infection. The tour companies suspended bookings at the hotel while investigations are being carried out.
The HPA is working closely with the tour operator, colleagues in the European Centre for Communicable Disease Control (ECDC), the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) and the Spanish public health authorities in Madrid and Valencia to collect and share any further information which may assist in the investigation.
GPs in England and Wales have been alerted to the incident and encouraged to look for Legionnaires’ disease in any travellers with symptoms of the disease. The Department of Health (DH) has issued an alert to NHS health professionals and A&E departments to ensure they are alert to the signs and symptoms.
Professor Nick Phin, head of Legionnaires’ surveillance at the HPA said: “Legionnaires’ disease is a rare cause of pneumonia. It is not contagious so can’t be spread from person to person. However, it can cause a serious pneumonia particularly in vulnerable people, such as the elderly or people with pre-existing health conditions. We are reassured that the water system in the hotel is the most likely source of this outbreak and that the appropriate public health action has been taken by the tour operators to move guests and alert them to the signs and symptoms of Legionnaires’ Disease.
“The HPA will continue to assist the tour operators, ECDC, ABTA and the Spanish public health authorities who are leading on investigating this outbreak.”
Legionnaires' disease is a serious pneumonia caused by a bacterium called Legionella pneumophila. This bacterium lives naturally in water such as rivers and lakes. It is caught by breathing in small droplets of water contaminated by the bacterium. Legionnaires’ disease generally affects older people and those with other underlying illnesses. People in these groups can also have more severe symptoms and complications, which can be fatal. The infection usually responds to treatment with the appropriate antibiotics.
Early symptoms are flu-like with muscle aches, tiredness, headaches, dry cough, breathlessness and fever that can lead to pneumonia. As with any pneumonia, the patient can become very unwell. Diarrhoea and confusion may occur in addition to chest and breathing problems. It is usually six or seven days after exposure that the individual would begin to show symptoms.
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Last reviewed: 1 May 2012