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2 July 2018 Legionnaires’ Disease warnings in Spain

posted 3 Jul 2018, 06:00 by Ian Clarenbone

Hotels and other popular tourist haunts have been warned to tighten up their precautions this summer after a near 50% spike in the number of legionnaires’ disease cases reported in Spain last year.

While not all registered cases involved tourists, the National Association of Environmental Health Businesses (Anecpla) said that the arrival of summer with high temperatures and increased use of air conditioning highlighted the need to “maximise controls” on cooling systems where the bacteria breed.

Eight people died in Spain in 2017 from the disease in what was the second worst year in a decade, while the number of reported cases soared to nearly 1,500 from just over 1,000 in 2016 according to figures from the National Centre for Epidemiology. One of the worst outbreaks happened in early autumn when eight hotels were affected in the town of Palmanova on the island of Mallorca. It caused a wave of cancellations, especially in its leading incoming tourism market, the UK, after British travel agents’ clients were advised to steer clear of the resort.

In its warning, Anecpla pointed out not only the dangers from hotel, spa and other accommodation systems but also less obvious ones such as those used by restaurants and bars on their outdoor terraces. Another area prone to propagating the disease was the very place tourists went to in the case of falling ill, namely hospitals and clinics. “All (systems) are susceptible to provoke a possible outbreak of legionnaires’,” said the Director General of Anecpla, Milagros Fernández de Lezeta.

The association said the need for regular maintenance was underscored by the 2017 figures which showed that ‘it’s not all being done as well as it should be’.

One specialist company Stenco said that since 2013 there had been “a growing trend in Spain that broke the progressive fall in cases that had taken place since 2002.” It also pointed out that ‘data declared from other European Union countries has also revealed a major increase when compared to previous years’.