A significant increase of legionnaire’s disease among tourists to the Spanish island has been noted for the past few weeks, especially among those who stayed in or visited the town of Palmanova.
So far, 18 cases have been identified, including one fatality. The source of the infection has not been found yet.
The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control has issued the alert.
Legionnaire’s disease is a severe form of pneumonia, a lung inflammation usually caused by infection. It is caused by a bacterium known as legionella. People do not catch legionnaires’ disease from person-to-person contact. It is usually caught by breathing in small droplets of contaminated water, such as from showers, whirlpools, or any other sources which eject water. Once inhaled, a severe pneumonia affects the person within 2-10 days, usually within 6 days. The first signs are a general malaise, coughing, followed by chest pains and high fever.
The Luxembourg health ministry states that hospitalisation is urgently required if infected, and an aggressive and quick antibiotic treatment are necessary to avoid any severe consequences. Between 10% and 15% die from the disease.
The ministry issued the following guidelines:
- Anyone who stayed in Palmanova and shows signs of respiratory infection within two weeks should immediately see a doctor. Smokers, people above 50 years old, and people with a weak immune system are particularly susceptible to it.
- Travellers to Mallorca, especially smokers, people above 50 years of age and those with a weak immune system should be vigilant and should immediately see a doctor if any of the signs are present.
- For more information, people can phone the health service on 247-85650.