§ Mr. Alton
To ask the Secretary of State for Health, pursuant to his oral answer to the hon. Member for Liverpool, Mossley Hill, of 5 November, columns 317–18, 275W how many cases of legionnaire's disease have been reported in Liverpool; when they were first notified to the authorities; where they are thought to have originated; why the outbreak was not made public; what action was taken to warn other patients and staff; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Dorrell
Five cases have been reported in Liverpool so far in 1991, of which two appear to be related and associated with the Broadgreen cardiothoracic centre.
Both these cases, reported in October, were brought to the attention of the local public health authorities and the Public Health Laboratory Service when the diagnoses were confirmed.
As soon as the first case was confirmed at the cardiothoracic centre samples were taken from the water systems. The results indicated that the infection could have originated from that source. Measures were therefore taken to treat the water system immediately.
Confirmation of one case of legionnaire's disease cannot definitely be associated with any particular source. By the time that the second case was confirmed at the cardiothoracic centre appropriate control measures had been taken. There was therefore no need to alert the public.
Following confirmation of the second case letters were sent to the general practitioners of all patients treated at the centre since it opened in July and also to all other hospitals in the area, alerting them to the possibility of the diagnosis. All staff at the centre are being screened for any signs of infection so that prompt treatment can be provided if required. To date no further cases have been identified.