Legionnaires’ disease claims four lives

LISBON – The death toll from an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease in a large Lisbon hospital doubled to four on Friday, Portugal’s health authority DGS said, but the number of new cases being discovered appeared to subside.

The severe form of pneumonia has made another 40 people sick since it was detected on October 31 at the São Francisco Xavier hospital in Lisbon’s western Restelo area and six were in intensive care.

The peak of the outbreak was last Saturday when 13 new cases were discovered, while in the past few days new cases amounted to 3-4 a day and so far just one on Friday, DGS data showed.

Most of the 44 confirmed cases involved elderly people with other chronic conditions – the disease’s most common victims. The prosecutor’s office has launched an investigation of the outbreak, which provoked a bizarre incident on Wednesday when police interrupted the wake for one of the victims and took the body for an autopsy.

Authorities said experts were still working to establish the source of the bacteria.

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