AN outbreak of the deadly Legionnaires’ disease has left one man dead and another 15 critically ill.
Health bosses are frantically searching for the source of the outbreak, which has swept across the south west of Edinburgh.
NHS Lothian is dealing with a further 15 suspected cases, with the number expected to rise over the coming days.
A man in his 50s, who had underlying health problems, has already succumbed to the disease and died in the city’s Edinburgh Royal Infirmary yesterday.
Two women and 13 men, aged between 33 and 74, are being treated in hospital but one man has already been sent home after recovering.
Air conditioning cooling towers at four sites in the city have been treated, but health bosses have not ruled out other potential sources.
Samples taken from the cooling towers will now be tested to see if they are responsible for the outbreak.
Legionnaires’ disease has an incubation period of up to two weeks.
In a statement, NHS Lothian said: “Industrial cooling towers have been identified as a potential source of the infection and the cooling systems at four facilities in the area have been subject to an additional chemical treatment.
“Further inspections of these facilities will be carried out by the Environmental Health Service and the Health and Safety Executive over the coming days to ensure control measures continue to be effective.”
Scotlands’s worst ever outbreak of the desease happened over Christmas in 1987. More than 250 children and adults in Lochgoilhead, Argyll, fell ill in the run up to New Year, but no one died.
The outbreak was traced to the village sports centre.
The last major outbreak in Scotland resulted in three deaths and nine people infected with Legionnaires’ disease in the NHS Lanarkshire and Glasgow areas, although the source was never identified.