Legionella in Warstein: cause discovered

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Crisis management in the Soest district is criticized

The Warstein population is insecure and feels badly informed. The communication of the circle was suboptimal. The Warsteiner population feels particularly unsettled because of the travel warning that followed several days after the cancellation of the Warsteiner Montgolfiade. What was communicated by the district when? Now the search for possible errors in crisis management begins. This certainly makes sense in order to be able to act more effectively in future waves of illness.

A short sequence of events
The authorities informed the population for the first time on Monday, August 19, about the wave of diseases in Warstein. De Kreis Soest had already been informed about the disease series a week earlier. A press conference informed that there were already 63 cases of unusual pneumonia, as a result of which two patients had already died. Bacteria were identified as the trigger.

The head of the health department, Dr. Frank Renken, however, kept himself covered because the bacteria have to be detected in ten percent of the patients. At this point the hospital is already treating the patient with the appropriate antibiotics against Legionella, which has also been announced by the authorities as the cause of the illnesses. To date, four positive legionella findings have been diagnosed. The number of sufferers was 64.

From this point on, health regulators were busy looking for the possible source. As a result, the wave of illnesses rose further to 86 people. The experts excluded the tap and drinking water as a transmission route. A crisis team was convened and a telephone hotline was set up on the same day, to which concerned citizens could turn with questions. The district issued a warning to avoid public buildings with air conditioning.

Employees from the District Health Office in Soest, the State Center for Health in Münster and an expert team from the University Hospital Bonn continued to search feverishly for the source in Warstein. In his search for the air conditioning system in question, the city of Warstein even went so far as to threaten all owners of large recooling systems with a fine of EUR 20,000 if this was not reported.

The first death was reported a day later. However, the authorities did not want to announce a connection with the legionella before an autopsy. The number of sufferers continued to grow. In the meantime, 111 cases were registered. A short time later, the test from a company based in Warstein is positive. As a precaution, the 23rd Montgolfiade, a major event, was not canceled on the recommendation of the district health office and the number of illnesses rose to 116. Up to this point, this information was communicated in a question and answer catalog on the homepage and on the citizens' phone.

The source has been identified The source for the Legionella outbreak in Warstein, Sauerland, has been found. The “National Legionella Reference Laboratory” at the Technical University of Dresden has clearly identified 19 species of Legionella using extensive investigations. These are identical to the pathogens of the sick with Legionella. A chiller from a Warsteiner company is responsible for the specialists.

However, the all-clear cannot be given. The district administration points out that the on-site investigations and research will continue and that samples will also be taken. Because the exact transmission path could not yet be identified. The travel warning for Warstein remains for the time being. The 27,000 people from Warstein are also advised not to stay outdoors. (fr)

Picture: Dr. Karl HERRMANN / pixelio.de

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