GPs put on alert as Legionnaires' outbreak in Scotland spreads

The outbreak of Legionnaires' disease in Edinburgh has widened to 51 cases with one fatality, as the Scottish government called on GPs to look out for the symptoms.

Nicola Sturgeon: 'Cases are expected to increase over the next couple of days.'
Nicola Sturgeon: 'Cases are expected to increase over the next couple of days.'

The Scottish government has sent GPs information on how to spot signs of infection after the outbreak grew to 24 confirmed and 27 suspected cases. One person has so far died from the disease, 14 are in intensive care while two have been discharged from hospital.

Concerned patients are being advised to visit their GP or call a dedicated NHS 24 helpline.

Health secretary Nicola Sturgeon said although the risk to the general public remained low, cases are expected to increase over the next couple of days.

'There is a now a dedicated advice line for everyone who is affected by the outbreak and households in affected  areas will receive a leaflet advising on the symptoms to look out for.'

Cooling towers believed to be the source of the infection have now been sterilised but the disease's incubation time means more cases may still emerge over the next four to five days.

Dr Duncan McCormick, a public health consultant from NHS Lothian, said: 'We remain confident - based on the available evidence - that the general source of the infection has been identified and that the treatment to the cooling towers will prove successful.'

He added: 'I would like to assure the public that the drinking water is completely safe – the virus is not passed on by drinking water or from person to person transmission.

'If anyone has any concerns we would advise them to consult their GP or the NHS 24-dedicated helpline.'

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