Legionnaires' Strikes Spain

MURCIA, Spain-A rural farming community 250 southeast of Madrid is facing an outbreak of Legionnaires' disease. There are 178 people confirmed to be infected by the airborne bacteria, and another 292 hospitalized with symptoms.

Legionnaire's disease is often difficult to diagnose. The symptoms include fever, chills, and a cough. Doctors often confuse the illness with pneumonia. Person-to-person transmission does not occur.

The disease is named after a 1976 outbreak in Philadelphia at a national American Legion convention.

Legionnaire's disease is fatal to 5-10% of its victims and is usually contracted from inhaling mist of contaminated water.

Crews are cleaning four air conditioning systems in the city that are suspected of harboring the bacteria. It is unknown if one of these systems is the source of the outbreak. One of the four systems is located in Murcia's largest department store.

Although all confirmed patients have survived, a 65-year-old man is believed to have died of the disease. Officials will not confirm the cause of death.

Each of the confirmed patients has lived, worked, passed through two downtown neighborhoods.

Information from www.washingtonpost.com, www.britannica.com