Outbreak: first legionella death at Ghent hospital

The legionella outbreak in East Flanders has claimed a first life.  A patient being treated at Ghent University Hospital has succumbed to the disease.  A further fifteen patients are still being treated, while the Care and Health Agency continues to search for the source of the outbreak affecting the town of Evergem near the port of Ghent.

The man who has died is aged fifty and had been fighting for his life for several days. Dr Dirk Ommeslag, who is treating the patients at the Sint Lucas Hospital, told VRT that the man who has now died was in such a bad way that medics were having trouble assisting his breathing with medical equipment.

Antibiotics are being administered to the surviving patients.  One is in a critical condition.  Six of the patients are over 65, are chronically ill or have lowered resistance showing that elderly people or people with lowered resistance are more vulnerable to the disease.

Most patients hail from Evergem, others from Ghent.  They are being quizzed to find out if there are any common factors.  First results have failed to identify any common visits to venues.  Tap water isn't a suspect because the patients aged between 25 and 90 have very different profiles.  

Cooling towers in the port are Ghent are a possible source, though a pond was the source of the last outbreak. Results from water samples taken will only be available on Monday as the bacteria first needs a chance to grow in the samples.  Usually the source is never found!

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