Lombardy: Legionella outbreak affects hundreds

 MILAN – One man has died and another is in a serious condition in hospital after a Legionella outbreak in northern Italy, health authorities said on Tuesday.

 The latest victim, an 82 year-old man from Lecco, died two days after being admitted to hospital in cardiac arrest.

 According to Azienda Socio Sanitaria Territoriale (ASST) of Monza, Antonio Madelli underwent “specific diagnostic examinations”, which “seem to have highlighted a framework compatible with a diagnosis of pneumonia caused by Legionella bacteria”.

 Another man, a 29 year-old attached to an ECMO (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation) machine, is in a serious but stable condition, doctors at Monza’s San Gerardo hospital said.

 The most serious cases so far have involved the elderly.

 70 municipalities in the Brescia and Mantua areas have been affected. 

 In Brescia alone there have been 12 confirmed cases of legionella, with one death from bacterial pneumonia. In Turin, the bacterium is suspected to be responsible for the death of a 60 year-old woman.

 “[In Lombardy] as of 8pm yesterday there have been 235 emergency room admissions, with 196 cases currently receiving treatment in hospital, 12 people who have refused admission or who have been discharged, two deaths, one with an established diagnosis of legionella,” the welfare official for the Lombardy region Giulio Gallera said. “In 12 cases in total, it has been established that it is Legionella.”

 The legionella bacterium is highly present in natural environments, like rivers, lakes and swamps. It can be contracted by inhaling vaporised water containing legionella but cannot be spread from person to person. The risk of being harmed depends on the health of the individual.