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Legionnaires update: cooling towers shut in South Wales

Officials have temporarily shut down the cooling towers within a South Wales industrial estate in the search for the source of Legionnaires disease outbreak.

Samples were taken in Dowlais, Merthyr Tydfil, following a prohibition notice: however officials at Public Health Wales, who are leading the investigation, have not confirmed the towers are the source of the outbreak.

So far 17 cases have been confirmed with a further four said to still be under investigation – these include the death of a 70-year-old man and a 64-year-old woman.

The inspection has covered all companies with registered cooling towers and evaporative condensers in the Merthyr Tydfil, Blaenau Gwent and Rhymney area, with three being served improvement notices.

Dr Gwen Lowe, head of the outbreak control team and consultant in communicable disease control for Public Health Wales, said: “Our investigations show that there is no single building visited by all the people linked to the outbreak. The sources, or source, are therefore likely to be industrial processes such as cooling towers.

“Environmental health officers and Health and Safety Executive officials have visited and checked all the registered cooling towers in the area under investigation. They have also visited unregistered cooling towers. These investigations continue.

“We have no evidence that the cooling tower served with a prohibition notice is linked to any cases of Legionnaires’ disease. We also have no evidence that the cooling tower which was voluntarily closed on Saturday is linked to any case of Legionnaires’ disease.”

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