Travel associated Legionnaires’ disease in Palmanova, Mallorca (Spain), Travel advice, 30-10-2017

An increase number of Legionnaires’ disease cases have been reported in Palmanova, Mallorca, Spain. As of 26 October 2017, 21 travel-associated cases, including 1 death, were reported. The 21 cases stayed in accommodation sites in Palmanova. An additional case has been detected in a local person working in holiday accommodation.

Cases have been reported from the United Kingdom (17 cases), France (2 cases), Czech Republic (1 case) and Denmark (1 case). While Legionnaire’s disease occurs occasionally in Palmanova, with about 1 to 4 cases per year, an outbreak as large as the current one is unusual. The source of the outbreak has not yet been identified.

Legionnaires’ disease is a bacterial infection of the respiratory system that causes pneumonia. It is transmitted through droplets of contaminated water suspended in air.

Legionnaires’ disease cannot be transmitted from human to human. Symptoms include “flu-like” illness with muscle ache, tiredness, headache, dry cough, shortness of breath and fever. The incubation period is between two and ten days but it can take longer so people should watch for symptoms for about 2 weeks after exposure.

In nature, Legionella live in fresh water and rarely causes illness. Legionella can live in artificial sources such as water-cooling towers, hot and cold-water systems and spa pools.

Advice for travelers

All travelers should be informed about the current outbreak in Palmanova. Travelers staying in poorly maintained hotel/apartment accommodation may be at higher risk. All travelers should be aware of the symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease and be encouraged to seek medical attention locally if they develop symptoms while abroad. Travelers may be at increased risk if they:

  • are aged over 50 years
  • smoke
  • have an existing underlying medical condition
  • are immunosuppressed

Travelers returning from Palmanova, Mallorca are advised

  • To monitor their health for two weeks after return.
  • Τo seek medical attention if they develop symptoms up to two weeks after return and inform their healthcare provider of their trip.