Major outbreak of Legionnaires Disease in Lisbon suburb

Since early November, when a few cases of Legionnaires Disease were reported, the number of cases has increased quickly to 302 reported cases with 5 confirmed and 4 more suspected deaths, all linked to exposure in Vila Franca de Xira, a suburb of Lisbon. This outbreak is considered to be a major public health emergency. The exact source of the infections is not known, and general measures such as closing ornamental fountains and increasing the chlorine concentration of tap water have been implemented. Cooling towers of the main industrial facilities in the affected area have been closed down.

Health authorities have issued the following precautionary recommendations to the population:

  • avoid showers, Jacuzzis and whirlpools;
  • disinfect shower heads by immersion in bleach solutions for about 30 minutes once a week;
  • set the temperature on water heaters above 75 degrees C, if possible.

Visit our Health Library for more information on exposure to and the prevention of Legionnaires' Disease.