Investigating a cluster of Legionnaires' cases: Public health implications

R. Carr, R. Warren, L. Towers, A. Bartholomew, H. V. Duggal, Y. Rehman, Timothy Harrison, B. Olowokure*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives: To describe the multidisciplinary investigation and management of a rapidly increasing number of cases of Legionnaires' disease in the North Shropshire area, UK during August 2006. Study design: Epidemiological and environmental investigation of a cluster of cases of Legionnaires' disease. Methods: Outbreak investigation included: agreeing case definitions; case finding; epidemiological survey; identification and environmental investigation of potential sources; microbiological analysis of clinical and environmental samples; mapping the location of potential sources; and the movement and residence of cases. Results: Three cases of Legionnaires' disease were admitted to a local hospital between 30 and 31 August 2006. Two of these cases were Shropshire residents, with the third living in Wales. A fourth case was also identified which, it was thought, may have been linked to this cluster as the patient had a history of travel to the same area as the two Shropshire residents. Over the next few weeks, three more cases were identified, two of whom were admitted to hospital. Subsequent detailed environmental, epidemiological and microbiological investigation did not support the hypothesis that any of these cases could be linked to a common source. Conclusions: The results of this investigation strongly suggest that a single source was not responsible for the cluster, and it was concluded that this incident was a pseudo-outbreak. This investigation serves as a reminder that clusters can and do occur, and that an apparent outbreak may be a collection of sporadic cases distinguishable only by rigorous epidemiological, environmental and microbiological investigation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)326-331
Number of pages6
JournalPublic Health
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2010

Bibliographical note

Copyright 2010 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Case definition
  • Environmental health
  • Legionella
  • Legionnaires' disease
  • Molecular subtyping
  • Pseudo-outbreak


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