Increased legionnaires’ incidence linked to climate change

RISING rates of legionnaires’ disease may be related to climate change, an expert says.

A recent report prepared for the NZ Health Ministry revealed a 141% rise in the number of cases of the illness in just one year.

Of 178 reported cases of legionnaires’ in 2010, there were 136 hospitalisations and five deaths, the report said.
This year there were 89 cases reported in the first six months compared to 63 cases for the same period last year.

Communicable disease scientist David Harte said no-one knew the reason for the increase but one possibility could be global warming.

“[It may be] simply due to warmer weather – or other seasonal factors we don’t understand,” he said.

 “Warm, humid weather will allow Legionella [bacteria] to multiply and survive but we haven’t got any hard evidence that this results in an increased incidence of the disease.”