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Tuesday, 20 August, 2002, 11:40 GMT 12:40 UK
Legionnaires' source officially traced
Legionella bacteria: courtesy of Science Photo Library
Four people have died following the outbreak
The outbreak of Legionnaires' disease at Barrow-in-Furness has been officially traced to a council-run civic centre, health experts have announced.

Four people have died in the outbreak, the biggest ever in the UK.

The victims were an 88-year-old man and three women aged 54, 56 and 76.

Experts investigating the cause of the outbreak confirmed on Tuesday that the source was "beyond all reasonable doubt" the air conditioning plant at the town's Forum 28 arts and civic centre.

Forum 28 Arts Centre
The leisure centre will reopen on Wednesday

As well as those who died, a further 127 people, all of whom had been in or around Barrow-in-Furness since 1 July, have contracted the disease.

Nearly 330 others have received hospital treatment in the town with suspected cases of the pneumonia-like bug.

A spokesman for Cumbria and Lancashire NHS health protection unit said initial investigations had identified Forum 28 as the source.

He said: "The source of such outbreaks can never be confirmed with absolute certainty.

"However, it is the opinion of the Outbreak Control Committee that Forum 28 was the source of this outbreak with a degree of probability that goes beyond all reasonable doubt."

Legionella bacteria had been found in the water cooling system at Forum 28, which has now been cleaned, and the centre will reopen on Wednesday.

Council sympathy

The bacteria was not found in any of the other "potentially hazardous" air conditioning plants, all of which appeared to be well-maintained, the spokesman said.

All confirmed cases had either lived near or visited Barrow town centre during July, and nobody has contracted the disease since the plant was shut down on 1 August.

Barrow Borough Council, which runs the centre, expressed its "heartfelt sympathy" to all affected by the outbreak.

A council officer has been suspended as inquiries continue.


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See also:

19 Aug 02 | England
15 Aug 02 | England
14 Aug 02 | England
02 Aug 02 | Health
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