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Legionnaires' Outbreak In Scotland Claims Third Life

A third man being treated for Legionnaires' disease in the outbreak in Scotland has died, health authorities said on Tuesday.

The outbreak, which started at the end of May, is believed so far to have sickened 99 people, 49 with confirmed infection by Legionella bacteria and another 50 suspected cases.

Although the source of the outbreak in Scotland is thought to be somewhere in the south of Edinburgh, the authorities are still unable to locate it.

Most of the confirmed cases are linked to the Dalry, Gorgie and Saughton areas of the city, reported The Scotsman on Tuesday.

The man who died this week was in his sixties and lived in Edinburgh. It appears he had been ill for some time.

Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon expressed her sincere condolences to the man's family and friends. She told the media, "my thoughts are with them at this very difficult time".

The other two men who died last month also lived in Edinburgh.

Three further infected people are being treated in intensive care, and another six are also in hospital, according to The Scotsman.

Legionnaires' disease is a potentially fatal lung infection (pneumonia) which people can catch from breathing small droplets of water contaminated with Legionella bacteria. It doesn't spread from person to person. Death can be avoided if the infection is treated promptly with antibiotics.

Health officials say it appears the outbreak has passed its peak, although a small number of cases or suspected cases are still coming forward.

Dr Christine Evans, Consultant in Public Health Medicine, said she wished to reassure the public that in these cases the people affected had been ill for some time, and they all had links with south west Edinburgh, reports the BBC.

10 of the 50 suspected cases are people who do not live in the affected area but had visited it in recent weeks.

"NHS Lothian are maintaining high quality care for patients who remain unwell and work to identify and deal with the source of the outbreak continues," said Evans.

In the meantime, Sturgeon urges anyone in the affected areas who has started with symptoms since the outbreak began at the end of May, to contact their GP or NHS 24, the Health Information and Self Care Advice service for Scotland.

Symptoms of Legionnaires' disease can appear any time from 2 to 19 days after breathing in the bacteria, although 6 to 7 days is the most common incubation period.

The symptoms usually start with one or two days of mild headaches and muscle pain that is usually followed by other symptoms such as high fever, tiredness, chills, more severe muscle pain, confusion, shortness of breath and sometimes vomiting and diarrhoea.

Lothian and Borders Police and the Health and Safety Executive are conducting an the investigation into the outbreak, under the direction of the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) Health and Safety Division.

The investigation is still focusing on industrial cooling towers in the south of Edinburgh. So far, 16 of the towers have been chemically treated to kill any bacteria and a number of organizations have received Health and Safety Improvement Notices.

One of the men who died was working as a builder in the affected part of Edinburgh.

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