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Legionnaires’ disease cases reported in British travelers to Spanish town

British health officials are reporting an increased number of Legionnaire’s disease cases in travelers to Palmanova, in Mallorca, Spain. During the past month, 17 British travelers have returned from the area with the infection.

Legionella bacteria
Image/CDC

Nick Phin, Deputy Director at Public Health England said:

At this time, the source is under investigation and the Spanish authorities are leading the response to this outbreak. We are active in responding to any requests for information on UK cases from the Spanish authorities.

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We are advising people who have travelled or are planning to travel to Palmanova in Mallorca to be aware of the signs and symptoms of Legionnaire’s disease, which are initially flu-like. This is particularly important if you are in a group at increased risk of infection such as those with underlying medical conditions, smokers or people aged 50 or over.

Once infection starts in the lungs, symptoms may become pneumonia-like, such as a persistent cough. If you do experience symptoms, speak to your GP as soon as possible and inform them of your travel.

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PHE is advising people who have already travelled to Palmanova, Mallorca to be aware of the symptoms of Legionnaire’s disease. If they develop these symptoms, they should alert their GP, telling them about their recent travel.

Initial symptoms are usually flu-like and include:

Once infection starts in your lungs, you may also experience symptoms of pneumonia, such as a persistent cough. This is usually dry at first, but as the infection develops, you may start coughing up phlegm or (in some rare cases) blood, whilst experiencing shortness of breath and chest pains.

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If you plan to travel to Palmanova, Mallorca and are at increased risk of contracting Legionnaire’s disease (aged 50 or over, have underlying medical conditions (such as diabetes, kidney disease, or a pre-existing lung condition, have weakened immune systems (for example, people on certain types of cancer treatment) or who smoke or have smoked heavily in the past and heavy alcohol drinkers), we advise that you look out for the symptoms of the infection. Contact your GP or another health professional immediately if you think you have been affected, telling them about your recent travel, health officials note.

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