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Irish holidaymakers warned over 'very serious' infection that can be caught in hotels

Irish holidaymakers are being warned of a ‘very serious’ infection that tourists can catch abroad in the likes of hotels, hospitals, and offices.

Legionnaires' disease is a lung infection you can develop by breathing in droplets of water from things like air conditioning or hot tubs.

It is usually caused by a specific strain of bacteria found across the globe in freshwater environments, both natural and man-made, as well as in damp soil, compost and mud.

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The HSE says “It's uncommon but can be very serious,” and with the busy summer period coming up it is more important than ever to be aware of it.

“You can catch Legionnaires' disease if you breathe in tiny droplets of water containing bacteria that cause the infection.

“It's usually caught in places like hotels, hospitals, or offices where the bacteria have got into the water supply. It's very rare to catch it at home.”

Some of the most common ways you can catch it are from things like:

  • air conditioning systems
  • spa pools and hot tubs
  • showers, taps, and toilets
Irish holidaymakers warned over 'very serious' infection that can be caught in hotels (Getty)

On the other hand, the HSE states that you cannot usually get it from:

  • drinking water containing the bacteria
  • other people with the infection
  • places like ponds, lakes, and rivers

The risk of infection is greatest in those with risk factors staying in poorly maintained accommodations such as those:

  • aged over 50 years
  • Who are current or previous smokers
  • Have excess alcohol consumption
  • Have chronic heart, lung, kidney or liver disease
  • Have cancer
  • Have suppressed immune system due to medication or disease.

From 2 and 10 days after becoming infected you will develop flu-like symptoms - such as fever, headache, loss of appetite, sore muscles, and tiredness - all of which may be accompanied by confusion.

Legionnaires’ Disease requires prompt treatment with antibiotics, and so if you develop these symptoms while abroad - or days after arriving home - you should see medical attention.

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