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Dutch Legionnaires’ Toll Hits 21

April 1, 1999

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands (AP) _ An outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease among visitors to a Dutch flower show last month claimed another life on Thursday, raising the death toll to 21, the Health Ministry said.

Some 231 people have become ill after visiting the Westfriese Flora show in Bovenkarspel, 40 miles north of Amsterdam, in February. The outbreak is one of the worst in the short history of the disease. Some 106 people are known to have been infected by the disease, according to the ministry.

Government medical staff are trying to confirm that a warm-water whirlpool was the source of the bacteria. The whirlpool was part of a consumer products show held alongside the Westfriese Flora, which attracted 80,000 visitors.

Legionnaires’ disease was first diagnosed in 1976 at a convention of the American Legion in Pennsylvania, where 220 of the 4,000 visitors were infected and 34 died.

The bacteria that are believed to cause the illness are found in soil and thrive in air-conditioning ducts, storage tanks and rivers. Experts say the germ, spread through the air via tiny water particles, kills one of every six people it infects.

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