Officials seek bug source

A HARTLEPOOL man being treated for suspected Legionnaires’ disease is said to be “recovering well” in hospital.

It comes as officials from the Health Protection Agency (HPA) and Hartlepool Borough Council continue efforts to investigate potential sources of the infection.

No other suspected cases have been reported but officials say they are remaining “vigilant”.

Legionnaires’ disease can only be contacted from the source of the contaminated water and cannot be spread from person to person.

No details have been released about the identity of the man. But he is believed to be receiving treatment at the University Hospital of North Tees, in Stockton.

A HPA statement said: “Experts from the Health Protection Agency and Hartlepool Borough Council’s environmental health department are continuing to investigate a suspected case of Legionnaires’ disease in a Hartlepool resident.

“The case is still receiving treatment in hospital but is recovering well.”

Legionnaires’ disease is a rare form of pneumonia caused when a person breathes in air that contains legionella bacteria in droplets of water.

These bacteria live naturally in environmental water sources, such as lakes, rivers, puddles and ponds without causing a risk to humans.

But problems arise when they contaminate man-made water systems, such as water in air conditioning cooling systems, hot and cold systems in buildings, spa pools and other artificial water systems.

Officials say an investigation is ongoing to determine the possible sources of infection but it is understood that could take some time.

Dr Peter Acheson, of the HPA in the North East, said: “Legionnaires’ disease does not spread from person to person and can only be contracted from the source of the contaminated water.

“We are working closely with the local authority to investigate potential sources of infection as is standard practice.

“We are not aware of any other suspected cases in the local area at the present time but remain vigilant.”

A council spokesman said: “We can confirm that council environmental health officers are currently involved in a joint investigation into a suspected case of legionnaires’ disease.

“We are working closely with the Health Protection Agency to investigate potential sources of infection as is standard practice.”