Outbreak of Legionnaire’s disease at Sydenham hospice

PUBLISHED: 16:09 30 January 2013 | UPDATED: 16:09 30 January 2013

An outbreak of Legionnaires’s disease has hospitalised a worker at St Christopher’s Hospice, in Sydenham, and affected two other inpatients.

The Health Protection Agency (HPA) has been working with the hospice to investigate how the infection may have been acquired.

From January 15 the inpatient unit at St Christopher’s has been closed to new admissions in order to bring forward a programme of refurbishment.

The hospice will be following the advice of the HPA and implementing all recommended measures, as well as replacing pipe work.

Barbara Monroe, hospice chief executive, said:“Everyone at St Christopher’s is very concerned about our colleague and our thoughts are with the individual and their family at this difficult time.

“We will be providing additional community services whilst the inpatient unit is closed.”

The symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease include a ‘flu-like’ illness with muscle aches, tiredness, headaches, dry cough and fever, which can lead to pneumonia if not treated.

Director of the HPA’s south east London health protection unit, Dr Rachel Heathcock, said: ““It is important to note that Legionnaires’ disease cannot be spread from person-to-person.

“Most people exposed to legionella bacteria do not become ill with Legionnaires’ disease although the risk is increased in older people, those with pre-existing health conditions, smokers and generally men more than women.”

It is anticipated that the wards at St Christopher’s will reopen in the summer after the refurbishment work is completed.

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