Legionnaires’ Disease in Portugal

In November, health authorities reported that seven people had died in Portugal following the country’s largest-ever outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease. The outbreak began in a suburb of Lisbon called Vila Franca de Xira and had infected more than 300 people by mid-December. The source of disease was suspected to be the cooling towers at a local fertilizer plant.

As precautionary measures, ornamental fountains in the outbreak area were closed and the chlorine concentration in tap water was increased. The Directorate-General for Health of Portugal also recommended that people avoid showers, Jacuzzis, and whirlpools; disinfect shower heads once a week by immersion in bleach solutions; and set the temperature on water heaters above 75°C (167°F). Information about Legionnaires’ disease appears below.