Irish travellers warned of Legionnaires risk in Dubai

HSE urges caution after an Irish person contracts the disease in the Arabian state

File image of Legionella bacteria. File photograph: Science Photo Library

File image of Legionella bacteria. File photograph: Science Photo Library


Travellers to Dubai have been warned of the dangers posed by Legionnaires’ disease in the region, after an Irish person contracted the disease while visiting the Arabian state.

The HSE said that, while the risk of contracting the disease is low, it may be increased for those aged over 50, those with underlying breathing problems or weakened immune systems, and smokers.

Since last October, 65 cases of the disease originating in Dubai have been reported to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, one of them by Ireland.

The HSE’s Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) said that as the source of the outbreak had not been identified, anyone visiting or living in Dubai could still be at risk of exposure to the Legionella bacteria.

Most of those who contracted the disease stayed in hotels or apartments in Dubai, some as recently as late May. Two cases were fatal.

Type of pneumonia

Legionnaires’ disease is a type of pneumonia that usually starts with flu-like symptoms, including fever, tiredness, headache, and muscle pains.

These are followed by a dry cough and breathing difficulties, which may progress to a severe pneumonia.

The disease is spread through the air from a water source.

People become infected when they breathe in tiny droplets of water contaminated with Legionella bacteria.

The HPSC said travellers needed to be aware of the symptoms of the disease.

It added: “If symptoms develop within two weeks of returning home, you should seek medical care and inform your healthcare provider of your travel history.”