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5 July 2019 Health officials declare Legionnaires' outbreak at London's Dolphin Square

posted 8 Jul 2019, 01:03 by Ian Clarenbone

An outbreak of potentially deadly Legionnaires’ disease at Dolphin Square has been declared by health chiefs after a third person fell ill at the famed apartment blocks.

Public Health England confirmed it was investigating a spate of cases of the lung infection at the Pimlico residences linked to bacteria in the water system.

The most recent victim, Nick Russell, had been staying at his mother’s apartment while attending his father’s funeral. He spent several days in intensive care last month after developing pneumonia. He only went to A&E in Exeter after his mother raised concerns that he could have contracted the infection from breathing infected water spores from her shower.

Mr Russell, 57, a theme park ride designer from Somerset, said: “It was the most mind-blowing headache and flu-like symptoms. Very reluctantly I was frogmarched down to A&E - I really didn’t want to go there at all. I just wanted to quietly curl up and die. They were nervous that I might have something contagious, so they all had their masks on. It was a little bit freaky, but I was more disturbed by the side-effects of the antibiotics. I was told about the symptoms including seizures, the electrical pattern in your heart changing and tendon damage in my wrists and ankles that could potentially cripple you for life. But the NHS were fantastic and were by all account’s lifesaving. I was as weak as a kitten struggling to move and just lying in a crumpled heap in bed. If I hadn’t had gone down when I had there was every chance, I would have had pneumonia in both lungs rather than one.” He added: “I was only in London to say goodbye to my father, but it was touch-and-go that my family would be saying goodbye to me as well.”


Mr Russell had been staying in Hawkins House. It shares a roof-top water tank with Nelson House, where the second victim, also a visitor to Dolphin Square, was found. The first case is thought to have been in Beatty House or Duncan House. The second victim collapsed in the apartment in June and was only discovered by chance. He is understood to have spent weeks in hospital receiving treatment.

The Health and Safety Executive said it was deciding whether to launch an investigation. 

There are about 1,200 flats in Dolphin Square’s 12 blocks. Taps and radiators are being replaced. Residents are being asked to run their taps and showers but “leave the room” while this is being done. One resident said: “Stable doors and horses come to mind. There should not have been a second case and there definitely should not have been a third.”

Dr Yimmy Chow, from Public Health England, said: ““Residents are advised to look out for signs and symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease, including a flu-like illness with muscle aches, tiredness, headaches, dry cough and fever, and call NHS 111 or their GP for medical advice.”

Dolphin Square said in a statement: “Water at the estate is monitored, tested and treated in accordance with all applicable national regulations and guidelines. We are also undertaking an estate-wide review of water installations in tenants’ flats, and reminding our tenants of the need to regularly descale their taps and showers. The health and welfare of everyone who lives and visits Dolphin Square is central to all that we do.”