Legionnaires' outbreak could have been prevented: coroner
Lawyer for victims' families says report doesn't properly address how badly crisis was handled
The lawyer representing the families of 10 of 14 victims who died from an outbreak of legionaires' disease in Quebec City in 2012 says he’s satisfied with the recommendations made in a coroner’s report released today looking into the crisis.
However, lawyer Jean-Pierre Ménard said the report doesn’t go far enough into how badly the crisis was handled.
Approximately 200 cases of legionnaires’ disease — a severe form of pneumonia — were reported in the summer of 2012 in Quebec City.
Fourteen people eventually died from the outbreak.
Ménard said the deaths could have been avoided had rules and regulations been put in place following past outbreaks.
Quebec City mayor Régis Labeaume suggested as much in August 2012. He said then that it was government indifference toward a 1997 report that followed Quebec City’s previous legionnaires’ outbreak that was responsible for the 2012 deaths.
“Since 1997, nothing has been done to fix this situation,” Labeaume said in August 2012.
The 1997 report recommended the province create a registry of buildings that use cooling towers in their ventilation systems, so that an outbreak could be more quickly isolated.
It also recommended tougher regulations for inspecting and maintaining the towers, which are typically installed on rooftops.
The 2013 coroner’s report lamented the lack of a cooling towers registry.
“Despite outbreaks of legionellosis that occurred in the past, adequate controls were not in place and the public health authorities in Quebec did not have the necessary tools to effectively manage the crisis,” the coroner said in the report.
The 2012 legionnaires’ outbreak originated in a cooling tower in the Quebec City neighbourhood of St-Roch.