Sick man improving

A HARTLEPOOL man suffering from Legionnaires’ disease has been discharged from hospital and is recovering at home.

It comes as health officials confirm no “obvious source” has been identified but they have stressed there is no increased risk to public health.

​Experts from the Health Protection Agency (HPA) and Hartlepool Borough Council’s environmental health department have been investigating the case.

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

No other cases have been reported since it emerged almost two weeks ago that the man was being treated for the condition.

A spokeswoman for the HPA said: “The case required treatment in hospital but has since been discharged and is recovering at home.”

Work to identify the source has been a joint operation between the council and HPA but no obvious source has been found and officials say it is not always possible to identify a source.

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.

Dr Peter Acheson of the Health Protection Agency 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 have been working closely with the local authority to investigate potential sources of infection.

“No obvious source of infection has been identified and our investigations have not revealed any apparent increased risk to public health.

“Whilst efforts are always made to identify a source, unfortunately it is not always possible to identify a source in Legionnaires’ disease cases.”

No further details have been released about the identity of the man but it is believed he was receiving treatment at the University Hospital of North Tees, in Stockton.