Source of Dundee hotel infection may never be identifiedCreated on Tuesday, 29 March 2011 09:23
A top bacteriologist says investigations into a case of legionnaires’ disease in Dundee may never identify the source of the infection.
Hugh Pennington, emeritus professor of bacteriology at Aberdeen University, said the high incidence of flu-like illness reported by staff and visitors at the city’s Landmark hotel was unusual, but also may remain unexplained.
The four-star hotel has reported 68 staff and visitors suffering from flu-like symptoms in the last three weeks. NHS Tayside said yesterday there was no evidence so far of legionella bacteria in those with symptoms, although tests were continuing.
The hotel remains open but its leisure club is closed for investigations.
Last week, a visitor to the leisure club was confirmed as having legionnaires’ disease.
Prof Pennington said: “It is good news that a link with legionnaires’ has so far not been established, but the high number of people with flu-like symptoms is unusual.
“We are out of the flu season and legionnaires’ usually occurs in warmer weather, so it is a bit puzzling why so many people are reporting respiratory disease and it’s difficult to know what they might have had.
“One case of legionnaires’ is hardly an outbreak but, as the disease is so nasty, it must be thoroughly investigated.
“However, it may happen that no link is found and the confirmed case might be due to another exposure.”
Yesterday, environmental health officers from Dundee City Council continued to carry out tests in the Landmark’s leisure club to establish if legionella is present in the water system.
Legionnaires’ disease is contracted through the inhalation of water vapour carrying legionella.
Dr Finn Romanes, a consultant in public health medicine at NHS Tayside, said: “Our investigations are continuing to focus on the hotel’s leisure club.
“We have been working closely with Landmark through the investigation and will continue to do so.”
Dr Romanes added: “The symptoms of legionnaires’ disease include high fever with sweating, severe headache, shortness of breath, pain in the side of the chest, a cough which is either dry or with greenish, thick mucous and muscle aches and pains.
“It cannot be passed from person to person.”
He appealed for anyone who has visited the Landmark Dundee since the beginning of March and experienced these symptoms to contact their GP or NHS24.
A spokeswoman for Landmark Dundee said: “The health and safety of staff and guests are our number one priority at all times.
“Dr Christopher McGuigan, NHS Tayside consultant in public health medicine, is recommending that people do not stay away from the hotel as the focus of the investigation is on the leisure club.
“Until the investigation is complete, we have nothing more to add at this stage.”