09/06/2012 12:44 BST | Updated 09/08/2012 06:12 BST

Legionnaires Outbreak: Cases Of Deadly Disease Rise To 80 In Edinburgh

The number of confirmed and suspected cases of Legionnaires' disease has risen to 80, the Scottish Government's Health Secretary has confirmed.

This is an increase of eight in the total number of confirmed cases and a decrease of two suspected cases.

The Health and Safety Executive and Edinburgh City Council are continuing their investigations into the possible source of the outbreak.

It emerged on Saturday that the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has served an improvement notice on an Edinburgh company for alleged failures to adequately control the risk of Legionella in a cooling tower.

robert air

Robert Air, 56, from the Seafield area of the city, has died from the disease

The notice was served on the North British Distillery Company and refers to a tower in Wheatfield Road in Edinburgh.

An HSE statement said the firm has already taken all three of its cooling towers at the site out of operation. Issuing the improvement notice does not mean the tower concerned is where the outbreak originated.

The search for the source of the disease outbreak has centred on cooling towers at four sites in the south-west of the city, which have been "shock-treated" with chemicals.

Scottish Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon has said it is "not always possible to conclusively determine the precise source of an outbreak".

Of those cases of the disease being treated in hospital, 15 are in intensive care and 27 are in general wards.

A total of 16 cases are being treated in the community, 16 have been discharged from hospital.

legionanries bactria

A micrograph picture of the Legionionella pneumophilia bactera. The bacteria replicates quickly, part of what makes the disease so infectious

One man has died, named locally as 56-year-old Robert Air from the Seafield area of the city, has died of the illness so far.

Ms Sturgeon said earlier that the number of Legionnaires cases were expected to rise and it was "reassuring" to see many people had been discharged from hospital


A newly set-up helpline has received dozens of calls already, Sturgeon said.

"I think over the period from 3 o'clock on Friday, when it went live, to this morning there was something in the region of 50 calls made to it. NHS 24 had also been reporting an increase in calls to their general line, which may have been related to Legionella."

Those confirmed as having the disease range in age from 33 to 76, with more men than women infected.

Four patients are now being cared for outside the NHS Lothian area: one in Glasgow, one in the north of England, one in the NHS Tayside area and one in NHS Lanarkshire. All these cases are considered to be linked to the outbreak in the south-west of Edinburgh.