Seven dead in Legionnaires' outbreak

5th January 2004, Comments 0 comments

ARRAS, France, Jan 3 (AFP) - An 85-year-old woman has died in northern France from Legionnaires' disease, bringing the toll to seven dead and 48 others sick since an outbreak began in late November, officials said Saturday.

ARRAS, France, Jan 3 (AFP) - An 85-year-old woman has died in northern France from Legionnaires' disease, bringing the toll to seven dead and 48 others sick since an outbreak began in late November, officials said Saturday.

The environment and health ministries announced Tuesday that they would send experts to the Pas-de-Calais department to investigate the outbreak near the town of Lens, which they called one of the most serious ever seen in France.

The cooling tower at the Noroxo petrochemicals plant in nearby Harnes was identified as the primary source of contamination, but officials said they had singled out a possible second source in Henin-Beaumont to the east.

Regional officials said the Noroxo plant would be closed Sunday for cleaning as a precaution, the second time its doors have been shut since the start of the outbreak.

Noroxo is part of the Exxon Mobil group, the world's biggest oil company. Legionnaires' disease - first discovered at an American Legion convention in the United States in July 1976, where 29 people died - causes high fever, dry cough, lung congestion and subsequent pneumonia.

It is commonly spread through contaminated air conditioners and ventilators and is treated with antibiotics.

© AFP

                                Subject: France news

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