In September and October 1981 six cases of pneumonia occurred among men working in a power station under construction. Three were identified as cases of legionella pneumonia and two others had serology suggestive of legionella infection. In a sample of 92 men from the site 10 had low levels of antibodies to legionella; a similar sample of men working on an adjacent site showed none with positive serology. In a case control study it was found that cases of pneumonia were more likely than controls to have worked on a part of the site where four small capacity cooling towers were located. Legionella pneumophila serogroup 1 was isolated from the water systems of these four towers but was not found in samples from any other cooling towers or hot or cold water outlets on the site. It would appear that there was airborne spread of the organism from these cooling water systems which had not received conventional treatment to inhibit corrosion and organic growth. This is the first outbreak of legionnaires' disease to be recorded in an industrial setting in the United Kingdom. No cases of legionella infection have occurred on the site since the introduction of control measures.
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