Legionella deaths in north: source of infection still unclear

With deaths from Legionella creeping upwards in the north – victims this far have all been elderly – the government has now opened an inquiry.

The main issue is where the source (or sources) of infection may be.

Right now, the boroughs registering outbreaks are all within the Porto district and included in the government’s Covid-19 ‘partial lockdown strategy’ – Matosinhos, Vila do Conde and Póvoa de Varzim.

These boroughs connect with each other and are on the coast.

The latest fatality – bringing the death toll to seven since end October – was a 74-year-old man.

At least 40 other people either have been or still are being treated in hospital for positive infection by the bacteria, with roughly 20 more having been infected.

Visiting the Porto district yesterday, under secretary of state for health António Lacerda Sales said authorities “are taking samples of water from various cooling towers, from drinking water and secretions of patients, to check whether the strains of legionella are the same or not. We are at an early stage. I cannot say how long this will take, but we have to hurry up”, he said.

He did stress however that outbreaks like this do happen every now and then, and “we cannot live permanently in fear” of them.

Say reports today, of the 40 cases so far identified, only 18 remain in hospitals, none of whom are in ICUs.

Legionella is a ‘serious pneumonia’ caused by a bacteria that doesn’t transmit from person to person.

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