Life Health & Wellbeing

Sunday 16 December 2018

Serious disease which people catch from air conditioning and hot tubs has increased in Ireland

You can catch Legionnaires' disease if you breathe in tiny droplets of water containing bacteria that cause the infection.
You can catch Legionnaires' disease if you breathe in tiny droplets of water containing bacteria that cause the infection.
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

There were 25 cases of legionnaires' disease notified in Ireland last year.

This is a rate of 5.3 per million population increase compared to the rate of 2.1 per million observed in 2016.

Legionnaires' disease is a lung infection you can catch by inhaling droplets of water from things like air conditioning or hot tubs.

It's uncommon but can be very serious.

You can catch Legionnaires' disease if you breathe in tiny droplets of water containing bacteria that cause the infection.

It's usually caught in places like hotels, hospitals or offices where the bacteria have got into the water supply. It's very rare to catch it at home.

An autumnal seasonality as expected was evident in the cases in 2017 here last year, according to the Health Protection Surveillance Centre.

Over half of all cases were reported between August and November.

Legionnaires' Disease is a lung disease
Legionnaires' Disease is a lung disease

The majority of cases were men (60pc). The median age for all cases was 62 years, ranging between 39 to 90 years.

Some 44pc of cases were travel-associated.

Countries of travel included Spain (2), Turkey (2), United Kingdom (2), Germany (1), Italy (1), Serbia (1), United Arab Emirates (1), and USA (1).

Eleven cases were assumed to be community acquired.

When analysing the data over time it appears that the largest group affected by the disease tend to be older.

Between 2009 and 2017, the majority of cases occur in the over-50 age group compared to younger age groups.

If you have a bad cough and it doesn't go away, you cannot breathe properly and have severe chest pain you could have symptoms of legionnaires' disease.

Other symptoms include having a high temperature or you feel hot and shivery. Another is feeling like you have severe flu.

Tell your GP where you've been in the past 10 days, such as if you stayed in a hotel, spa or hospital.

Treatment in hospital may include antibiotics directly into a vein, oxygen through a face mask or tubes in your nose or a machine to help you breathe.

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