Legionnaires' kills 11 people in Quebec City
City says infections have been decreasing
Posted: Sep 2, 2012 11:46 AM ET
Last Updated: Sep 2, 2012 6:05 PM ET
Quebec's public health board says legionnaires' disease has claimed one more life in Quebec City, raising to 11 the number of people who have died from complications.
As of Sunday, 169 people had been infected since July.
On Friday, the public health board said it was seeing fewer cases of infections caused by the disease.
According to authorities, the overall number of patients being admitted with the infection seems to be tapering off. The city has inspected and disinfected 130 cooling towers around the city.
On Friday, Quebec City Mayor Régis Labeaume said he wants the public health board to release the locations of buildings where officials have discovered legionella bacteria.
Labeaume has also asked regional public health director François Desbiens to maintain a high level of honesty while investigating the outbreak.
According to the public health department, many building owners have failed to respond to the government's request to inspect their cooling towers.
Quebec's Public Security Minister Robert Dutil has demanded a coroner's inquest into the matter.
On Saturday, the city said it was reinspecting about 30 buildings to make sure owners have complied with cleanup directives.
The potentially deadly legionella bacteria can grow in stagnant water and then spread in droplets through ventilation.
Heavy smokers and people with weak immune systems are most at risk of catching the disease, which is not contagious. Symptoms include persistent fever, coughing and difficulty breathing. Most people are not at risk.
The disease can be treated with antibiotics if it is diagnosed in time. There has never been a documented case of drug-resistant legionella.
City seeks better upkeep
Desbiens said the regional health authority has ordered that building owners keep a minimum of chlorine in the cooling towers' water at all time.
This order was effective as of Saturday.
Officials inspecting the cooling towers are giving owners information kits on how to maintain a level of sanitation that conform to the new standards.
In total, 130 towers in 75 establishments were inspected. Thirty-one of these were inspected twice, most of them in the Saint-Roch and Saint-Sauveur neighbourhoods.
On Friday, the organization representing Quebec's master plumbers warned that people who lower the temperature on their water-heaters to save power could be exposing themselves to the bacteria.
In a release, the organization asks people to maintain a temperature of 60 degrees Celsius.
The group said it took part in developing a national standard of heating water to 60 degrees before cooling it.
This strategy was recognized as one of the best to protect people against legionella and burns.
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