Deadly Legionnaires’ disease strikes again
Smokers, drinkers, seniors and anyone with a weak immune system is particularly at risk from bacteria that reproduce quickly in warm, moist areas.
Kiang Wu Hospital has reported a case of the life-threatening Legionnaires’ disease – the second in Macao this year – to the Health Bureau (SSM).
The 50-year-old non-local patient is a tourist who started shivering, coughing, sneezing and suffering from diarrhoea last week. Doctors at the Kiang Wu Hospital diagnosed Legionnaires’ bacteria in his lungs. His condition has been described as “normal”.
The SSM stated that the man had been staying at Wynn Macau since last September, although he visited Changsha, Hangzhou, Suzhou and Wuxi on business between 8 and 14 April, staying in local hotels.
Legionnaires’ disease can be traced back to 1976 in the US when an outbreak occurred among a group of retired soldiers. Legionnaires’ bacteria can survive in nature and can reproduce quickly in warm moist areas, especially in water between 20-45 degrees Celsius, and can be found in lakes, hot springs, whirlpool tubs, water fountains and some medical equipment. The incubation period of the disease ranges from two to 10 days.
SSM officials have pointed out that the disease cannot spread in food, and humans are unlikely to catch it even if they drink contaminated water. Seniors, smokers, alcoholics, and people with a weak immune system are particularly at risk; symptoms include fever, cough, breathing difficulties, fatigue, headache, sore muscles and diarrhoea.
To avoid contracting Legionnaires’ disease, residents should properly maintain the water supply system in buildings; install a water filter; and never drink water straight from the tap.