An article recently released by the University of Edinburgh discusses the difficulties involved in finding the source of an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease.
A study was done using DNA samples from patients infected during an outbreak in Edinburgh in 2012 (which caused 92 cases of Legionnaires’ disease and four deaths) and showed that the illness was caused by several subtypes of Legionella bacteria.
This finding indicates that it may be difficult to pinpoint the location that caused the infection.
Four subtypes of Legionella were found in the study and some patients were infected with more than one subtype. There was gene variation among the subtypes which suggests certain types of bacteria could cause more severe illness in patients.
According to Professor Ross Fitzgerald, leader of the study at The Roslin Insitute, “Genetic analysis is a powerful tool to help us track outbreaks of infectious diseases. Unfortunately, our findings suggest that it may be very challenging to prove conclusively where the Edinburgh outbreak came from, which will make it difficult for investigators to prosecute those responsible.”
To read more about this story, please click here.