Legionella in Algarve: deaths almost double in 24 hours

At least one person in the Algarve is under observation in Faro hospital after becoming infected with the deadly legionella bacteria. As nationally the number of deaths leapt by almost 100% in 24 hours, another case in Portimão is being investigated, although it is not in any way critical.
Meantime, government sources claim the outbreak – described as one of the worst in the world – is now under control, with all possible sources identified.
So far, over 300 cases have been confirmed with over 50 people still fighting for their lives in intensive care, mostly in the Vila Franca de Xira and Greater Lisbon areas.
In Faro, the patient now described as “clinically stable”, has been linked to the outbreak that began cutting its deadly swathe last Friday (November 7).
“He became infected in Vila Franca de Xira,” hospital director Pedro Nunes told us this morning. “He was extremely sick and treated in our intensive care unit, but we have got him through the worst. He is now out of danger in the recovery ward”.
The case under investigation in Portimão is already ‘closed’ in as much as the patient has been discharged from hospital fully recovered.
“As it came in before the outbreak was confirmed, no-one asked this patient where he had been,” Dr Nune explained.
“We are now trying to find out whether this was a related case, or simply a sporadic one.”
Either way, the patient’s symptoms were “not particularly serious”.
The reasons for this outbreak being described as the third worst in the world are that previously, in UK, the highest number of people infected came to 494 (seven deaths), followed by an outbreak in Spain in 2001 where 449 people were affected.
In Holland, a lesser outbreak in 1999 (188 infected) saw 21 deaths – thus Portugal has been congratulated on the relatively low death toll so far.
Director of health Francisco George told reporters last night that the incidents of people contracting the bacteria will now reduce considerably, although there could be further deaths of those already infected.
Secretary of state for health Fernando Leal da Costa has declared the subject “resolved”. “We are convinced that we have eliminated the sources that were behind the outbreak,” he said – stressing nonetheless that investigations were still ongoing.
Health investigators located traces of the legionella bacteria to the refrigeration towers of two factories in the region, and it is now very possible that the owning concerns of both will be prosecuted for environmental crimes.
As investigations continue, environmental NGO Quercus has been scathing of the government’s role when it comes to the country’s control of air quality.
A spokesperson told reporters that it may transpire that the government could be seen to hold some of the blame for this outbreak.
It is a suggestion that has already been refuted by prime minister Pedro Passos Coelho.