Portugal sees drop in cases of Legionnaires’ disease in northern region

There has been significant drop in cases of Legionnaires’ disease in Portugal’s northern region since the cooling towers of a factory in Matosinhos were turned off, the Regional Health Administration of the North revealed this Sunday.

“Since the operation of the aforementioned cooling towers was suspended, there has been a marked decrease in the number of cases of Legionnaires’ disease in the aforementioned geographic area,” the Regional Health Administration of the North said in a statement this Sunday, according to Lusa news agency.

Earlier this month, Portugal’s health authorities detected legionella bacteria in the cooling towers of the Longa Vida distribution centre in Matosinhos, Porto.

Longa Vida said in a statement that it had switched the towers off and that the bacteria had been discovered by the authorities on November 10. However, the company said it had not received any information regarding a possible correlation with the recent Legionnaires’ disease outbreak in the northern part of the country.

Legionnaires’ disease is a pneumonia-like lung infection caused by the legionella bacteria and it is contracted by breathing in water droplets containing the bacteria, which can grow in cooling towers, spas, showers and other water sources. 

According to Portuguese health authorities, 88 people have been diagnosed with the disease since October 29, and 10 people have died. The Public Ministry has  announced the opening of an investigation to investigate the causes of the outbreak.