While Italy, France, Spain, and Germany accounted for 75% of all reported cases, 895 cases of travel-associated Legionnaire’s disease infections, were also identified - a 38% increase in cases compared to 2020.
While the latter was hypothesised to be the result of the lifting of COVID-19 travel restrictions across Europe, the factors causing the more general increase in notifications were less obvious. Some of the factors suggested in the report included:
- Changes in national testing policies and surveillance systems,
- An ageing EU/EEA population; and
- The design, infrastructure, and maintenance of water systems used in buildings.
Climate change/weather patterns are another potential influence as they can “impact both the ecology of Legionella in the environment and the exposure to water aerosols containing the bacteria” according to ECDC.
With the Summer months typically the time of the year reported cases of Legionnaires’ disease increase in the UK, May 2023 has already seen several outbreaks identified elsewhere in the World, these being:
- 3 cases in the southeast suburbs of Melbourne, Australia;
- 2 cases in Niles, Illinois, USA;
- 15 cases and 1 death in the Ardennes region of France; and
- 12 cases in the Kaunas District of Lithuania.
Checking your risk assessment and controls, especially in view of further potential occupancy level changes during the holiday period, would be well advised.