The 2012 Edinburgh Legionnaires' disease outbreak

Richard Othieno, Christine Evans, Alison McCallum, Duncan McCormick, Janet Stevenson, Martin Donaghy, Fatim Lakha

Research output: Contribution to journalMeeting abstractpeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

In the period between 28 May and 13 July 2012 a large outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease occurred in the South West of Edinburgh. An Incident Management Team (IMT) was convened, cooling towers in the areas were shot dosed, and clinicians and public alerted. The Scottish Government established their resilience room on 5 June.

Investigation included comprehensive assessment of cases including in-depth diaries and dates of onset, enhanced surveillance, environmental investigations, demographic and weather analysis. Immediate action involved sampling and disinfecting potential sources, active case finding, alerting primary care, reassuring the public and informing public health agencies across the UK.

There were 56 confirmed and 36 probable and possible cases. Four deaths were reported, 49 patients hospitalised with 22 admitted to critical care. Over 1000 patients investigated and treated in primary care with 1626 urine and 572 sputum samples tested negative. Case mapping suggested that all were resident or had links to SW Edinburgh. Microbiology samples implicate Legionella pneumophila serogroup 1. Epidemiological and meteorological evidence suggested a common outdoor source in South-West Edinburgh over the duration 17 May to 6 June. Clustering of onset dates indicated a point source. Cases were 32–85 years, 73% males, likely to smoke and have underlying illnesses.

This outbreak is the largest in Scotland. Rapid multi-agency action and effective management of cases mitigated the effects of the exposure. Further investigations are on-going.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)E23-E23
JournalScottish Medical Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 12 Feb 2014

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Legionella pneumophila
  • outbreak investigation
  • Public Health
  • health protection


Dive into the research topics of 'The 2012 Edinburgh Legionnaires' disease outbreak'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this