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Tuesday, 10 September, 2002, 13:46 GMT 14:46 UK
Deadly bug source found
Legionella bacteria and health worker
Tests on a factory's cooling tower have proved positive
The source of the Legionnaires' Disease outbreak in the West Midlands, which claimed the life of one person, has been traced to a chemical plant.

Tests have shown the bacteria was in a cooling tower at Rhodia Consumer Specialties on Park Lane in Oldbury.

Terry Beach, a lorry driving instructor from Oldbury, West Midlands, died of a heart attack in hospital last month after contracting the illness.

Public health experts have also now revealed that an eighth person has contracted the disease but it is thought the case is part of the original outbreak.

Tests on a water cooling tower
Tests on 20 water cooling towers were conducted

The cooling towers at the plant have been treated to kill off the bug along with other potential sources of the disease.

Dr John Middleton, Sandwell's director of public health, said: "Tests have identified legionella bacteria, of a kind which is harmful to human health, in the samples taken from the site of Rhodia Consumer Specialties.

"All potential sources that were part of our investigation, including those that have now tested positive, were treated immediately with super-chlorination to make as sure as possible that any Legionnaires' bug which might have been present was destroyed."

He said that due to an ongoing health and safety executive investigation into the outbreak he could not make any further comment.

The tests at the Oldbury plant were conducted after it emerged that at least two of the people who had been infected worked there.

In all, tests on around 20 water cooling towers and air conditioning systems at various sites in the Oldbury area were carried out.

Case confirmed

A man in his 30s, from the Oldbury area, was admitted to Sandwell General Hospital over the weekend with symptoms of the illness, a hospital spokeswoman said.

Test results, released on Tuesday, confirmed the man had contracted the disease.

Public health officials said it was believed he became infected before the decontamination work was carried out and so his case was related to the previous seven patients.

Of the six other patients who contracted the disease all have now made a full recovery from the illness.

One woman remains at the City Hospital where she is being treated for an unrelated illness, said a hospital spokeswoman.


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See also:

28 Aug 02 | England
19 Aug 02 | England
15 Aug 02 | England
02 Aug 02 | Medical notes
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