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Legionnaires Disease in Southern Spain

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(With apologies for any cut & paste formatting errors):

Associated, Press, Monday July 9 4:12 PM ET

Legionnaires' Cases in Spain Grow

MURCIA, Spain (AP) - One person is suspected to have died of Legionnaires' disease and 71 people have been diagnosed with the illness in this southeastern Spanish city, the regional government said Monday.

The outbreak probably began Friday or Saturday, Dr. Lorenzo Cruz of Virgen de la Resaca Hospital told Spanish National Radio.

In addition to those diagnosed with Legionnaires, a form of pneumonia, 139 others have pneumonia-like symptoms, said Francisco Marques, health councilor for the region.

Doctors are conducting tests to see if a 65-year-old patient with pneumonia who died Sunday night had the disease, Marques said.

Those believed infected are mainly residents of two neighborhoods of Murcia, a city about 250 miles southeast of Madrid. Health officials are testing water towers to try to determine the source of the infection.

The bacterium that causes Legionnaires is typically spread when contaminated water is released into the air through air conditioners, steam or other means. It is named for an outbreak at an American Legion convention in Philadelphia 1976 in which 34 people died.

Symptoms include headache followed by high fever, shortness of breath and abdominal pain. The disease is most common in the elderly or in those with weak immune systems.

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