Outbreak of Legionnaires' Disease in Venice


EWGLINET (The European Working Group for Legionella Infection) has alerted the HPSC of an outbreak of legionnaires' disease in Venice (Italy). As of September 11th 2006, 15 cases of community-acquired legionnaires' disease associated with the centre of Venice have been confirmed. No deaths have occurred to date. The date of onset of symptoms ranges from July 20th to August 31st 2006. 

Environmental investigations are in progress to identify the source of this outbreak.

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 Venice from early August 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 Venice 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