Outbreak of Legionnaires' Disease in Paris


EWGLINET (The European Working Group for Legionella Infection) has alerted the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) of an outbreak of legionnaires' disease in Paris.

As of September 8th 2006, 15 cases of community-acquired legionnaires' disease have been confirmed. One patient has died. The date of onset of symptoms ranges from 28th July to 31st August 2006. These cases have all occurred in two southern districts of Paris (near Austerlitz and Lyon railway stations).

Environmental investigations are currently in progress to identify the potential source of the outbreak. At present, two cooling towers are suspected.

Legionnaires' Disease
Legionnaires' disease is a type of pneumonia caused by Legionella bacteria. The early symptoms include a 'flu-like illness with muscle aches, tiredness, headaches, dry cough and fever. Some people develop diarrhoea or may become confused. Deaths occur in 10-15% of otherwise healthy individuals and may be higher in some groups of patients. The incubation period ranges from 2 to 10 days but is usually 5 to 6 days. In rare cases people may develop symptoms as late as three weeks after exposure.

It is advisable that any persons who visited Paris from 18th July 2006 onwards who develop symptoms similar to those outlined above would seek medical advice and visit their GP. In particular they should inform him/her that they have visited Paris and that an outbreak of legionnaires' disease has occurred there.

Clinicians should consider the possibility of legionnaires' disease in all patients with a diagnosis of community-acquired pneumonia and in those developing symptoms as outlined above within 14 days of returning from an area where legionnaires' disease has been reported.

More information on legionellosis is available at http://www.hpsc.ie/hpsc/A-Z/Respiratory/Legionellosis/