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THE LANCET • Vol 356 • September 30, 2000 1177 POLICY AND PEOPLE European holiday resorts at risk for Legionella H undreds of hotels and holiday apartments in Europe are known to be high-risk buildings for Legionella infection, but this infor- mation is kept secret by European health authorities, acc- ording to the Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblad in a story pub- lished on Sept 21. During the past 5 years the newspa- per reports that 12 000 European tourists have been infected with Legionella pneu- mophila at holiday resorts across Europe and an estimated 1200 have died. The newspaper gained access to data collected by the European Working Group on Legionella Infections (EWGLI). EWGLI is a consortium of epidemiologists, microbiologists, and national health authorities, funded by the European Union (EU) and based in London. One of the main activities of its 35 collaborating centres in 31 European countries is a surveil- lance scheme to monitor all cases of travel-associated legionnaires’ disease occurring in European nationals. During the past 5 years EWGLI received 1200 reports of Legionella infections in 31 coun- tries. According to Carl Joseph, coor- dinator of EWGLI in London, who was interviewed by the newspaper, the actual number of infections is ten times higher, “than research in UK and the US has shown”, he says. “It is known that 10% of infected patients die, making the annual number [of fatal cases in European tourists]
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