Legionnaires’ kills three in Milan, 14 more infected

Outbreak hits northern Milan suburbs.

An 84-year-old woman from Milan’s northern suburb of Bresso was the third victim this week of an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease, which had already hit the area in 2014.

Like the two previous victims – a man and a woman, both aged 94, on Monday and Tuesday – the patient died in the Bassini hospital in Cinisello Balsamo. They were diagnosed in the nearby comuni of Cusano and Cormano.

Up to now, a total of 17 cases of Legionnaires’ disease have been confirmed in the northern quadrant of the city.  The other 14 are being treated in the Bassini and in Milan’s Niguarda hospital.

The welfare department of Lombardy’s regional government has set up a task force, in cooperation with the Bresso municipality, to identify the source of the infection and to provide information to doctors and citizens.

Health authorities reassure the public that the disease cannot be contracted through contact with other persons, through food or through water used for drinking, cooking or washing. As a precaution, people are advised not to use water which is produced in a spray, such as showers, Jacuzzi baths, lawn irrigation equipment, humidifiers or aerosol inhalation devices.

Legionnaires' disease is an atypical form of pneumonia with symptoms including coughing, shortness of breath, high fever, muscle pains and headaches. Symptoms, which can also include nausea and diarrhoea, can appear between two and 10 days after exposure.

The disease was named in 1976 when an outbreak his a convention of the American Legion in a Philadelphia hotel, infecting 182 delegaters and killing 29.