Local health authorities closed down the spa facilities of a hotel in Estepona, Malaga, yesterday after strands of the the Legionella bacteria were detected in two showers.
Legionella thrives in a warm, moist environments such as water pipes or air-conditioning systems in large buildings. Some types of legionella bacteria cause the type of pneumonia called Legionaires Disease while others are less agressive and cause an illness known as Pontiac fever that heals on its own and produces symptoms similar to flu. The disease is spread by inhaling contaminated water droplets.
It is quite common for legionella to be a problem in Spain, especially during the Summer months. Just four years ago there was a massive outbreak in Murcia, where over 700 people were infected by the bacteria, of whom 315 were diagnosed with legionnaires’ disease and one person died. Over two thirds people affected were over fifty. Every Summer the bacteria is detected somewhere in Spain, but usually measures are taken before anyone is infected.
Yesterday the Malagan authorities said they were closing down the spa facilities in the Hotel H10 Estepona Palace as a precautionary measure after legionella was detected in two showers during routine tests. The local authorities stressed that nobody had been infected but that the spa would remained closed until further checks had been carried out once the systems had been disinfected.
The incubation period for legionnaires disease is two to ten days. The first symptoms include loss of appetite, headache, muscle and stomach ache, diarrhea, and a dry cough. After a few days, pneumonia follows with high fever, chills, sleepiness, and coughing up of phlegm. If untreated, the pneumonia gets worse, so anyone who has stayed in the Estepona Palace hotel in the last couple of weeks is advised to consult their doctor should any of the above symptoms become apparant.