The Legionnaires disease, another fatal infection, is spreading faster than projected as about 200 Portuguese have been diagnosed to have contracted the disease.
The Legionnaires disease, which was being curtailed from spreading, had infected over 100 persons in less than a week with nine deaths recorded.
An illustration of Legionella bacteria, the cause of Legionnaires’ disease (Roger Harris / Science Photo Library)
SI Noticias, a local media in Portugal, reported that since October 30, seven people have died from the disease, and two others died at the Póvoa de Varzim Hospital Center / Vila do Conde.
Asa, a resident of Matosinhos, a city in Portugal, said residents were being tested for the virus daily for the commencement of treatment before it escalates.
“My family just went for consultation and testing at a Hospital Pedro Hispano. We saw many who are being treated, and everybody in the community is scared,” he said.
The disease, which is also spreading in the United States, caused the State Department of Public Health to launch an investigation after a man was suspected of having died after he was infected.
Portugal and the United States are the two countries with the most recorded cases of the rare, but potentially life-threatening disease.
The disease has also been recorded in Canada, England and China in recent times.
Legionnaires is caused by a bacterium commonly associated with water systems. Legionella occurs naturally in freshwater environments, like lakes and streams.
There is no vaccine currently available for Legionnaires’ disease, but precaution methods are being taken to curtail the widespread of the virus.
It is often categorized as being community, travel or hospital-acquired based on the type of exposure.
Of the reported cases, 75–80% are over 50 years, and 60–70% are male.
About one in 10 people who get sick from Legionnaires’ disease will die, according to the Centre for Disease Control.
Worldwide, waterborne Legionella pneumophila, is the most common cause of cases, including outbreaks. Legionella pneumophila and related species are commonly found in lakes, rivers, creeks, hot springs and other bodies of water. Other species including L. longbeachae can be found in potting mixes.
Infection can occur by aspiration of contaminated water or ice, particularly in susceptible hospital patients, and by exposure of babies during water births. There is no direct human-to-human transmission.
Prevention of Legionnaires’ disease depends on applying control measures to minimize the growth of Legionella and dissemination of aerosol, according to the World Health Organisation.