Legionnaire’s outbreak could affect 40 people
Health officials in Scotland have confirmed that the number of people with suspected cases of Legionnaire’s disease in Edinburgh now stands at 40.
Twelve of that number are in intensive care, two have been discharged and one has sadly passed away.
But it could take until the weekend for the full extent of the outbreak to be known, Lothian National Health Service officials said.
It is believed that the outbreak comes from an environmental contamination caused by a cloud being emitted from a cooling tower in the south west of Edinburgh.
Currently there have been 21 confirmed cases of Legionnaire’s disease and 19 suspected cases.
The majority of people affected appear to be males in their 30s and their late 80s.
Dr Duncan McCormick, chair of NHS Lothian's incident management team, told BBC News that two patients were “seriously unwell” but had now recovered enough to be discharged.
However, he believes that more cases will become apparent in the next couple of days.
He said: "The incubation period of Legionnaires' disease is between two and 14 days but the average is five or six days, so we're expecting to have more cases over the next few days.
"But if our evidence and reaction have been correct, we hope to have removed the source through our shock treatment of these cooling towers.
"We'd hope that by the weekend - five or six days after the treatment, we'll start to see a decline in cases."
Legionnaire’s disease is a rare but potentially fatal disease. Around 15 per cent of people who contract the disease go on to die, with smokers and the elderly the most at risk.
Symptoms include severe muscle pain, a cough and high fever, however, these often do not become apparent until around seven days after exposure, meaning that finding the original cause can be difficult.