Barrow-in-Furness: A large community legionellosis outbreak in the UK

E. Bennett*, M. Ashton, N. Calvert, J. Chaloner, J. Cheesbrough, J. Egan, I. Farrell, Ian Hall, Timothy Harrison, F. C. Naik, S. Partridge, Qutubuddin Syed, R. N. Gent

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


A community outbreak of legionellosis occurred in Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria, during July and August 2002. A descriptive study and active case-finding were instigated and all known wet cooling systems and other potential sources were investigated. Genotypic and phenotypic analysis, and amplified fragment length polymorphism of clinical human and environmental isolates confirmed the air-conditioning unit of a council-owned arts and leisure centre to be the source of infection. Subsequent sequence-based typing confirmed this link. One hundred and seventy-nine cases, including seven deaths [case fatality rate (CFR) 3·9%] were attributed to the outbreak. Timely recognition and management of the incident very likely led to the low CFR compared to other outbreaks. The outbreak highlights the responsibility associated with managing an aerosol-producing system, with the potential to expose and infect a large proportion of the local population and the consequent legal ramifications and human cost.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1763-1777
Number of pages15
JournalEpidemiology and Infection
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2014


  • Barrow-in-Furness
  • Legionnaires' disease
  • community outbreak
  • cooling tower
  • legionellosis


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