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Legionnaire's disease linked to U.K. animal lab

/ Source: The Associated Press

British health officials said Thursday they are investigating a case of Legionnaires' disease in a person who had worked at the government's Institute for Animal Health.

The person had been working as a contractor in a building at the institute's Pirbright site in southern England, which is also being investigated as a possible source of an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in livestock nearby.

A spokeswoman for the Health Protection Agency said there was no link between the two diseases.

John Anderson, of the Institute of Animal Health, said a contractor working at the site had tested positive for a low level of legionella, the bacteria that causes Legionnaires' disease.

He told reporters that the level had been within safe limits and claimed reporting of the case had been a "regrettable distraction" to work to tackle the foot-and-mouth outbreak.

The health agency said the case was discovered in June, and an investigation at the institute had found small traces of legionella. Legionnaires' is a type of pneumonia caused by bacteria in water droplets.

A preliminary investigation had found the institute "was carrying out all necessary maintenance and monitoring work in compliance with the Approved Code of Practice for the control of legionella," the agency said.