Outaouais health unit investigating legionellosis outbreak

Western Quebec's health authority is investigating six cases of legionellosis — the broad term for a number of diseases, including legionnaires' disease — that were recently reported in the region.

6 cases reported involving bacteria tied to legionnaires' disease

Legionella pneumophila bacteria are seen under an electron microscope. Western Quebec's health authority is reporting six recent cases of legionellosis with no clear source. (Janice Haney Carr/Centers for Disease Control/Associated Press)

Western Quebec's health authority is investigating six cases of legionellosis that were recently reported in the region.

So far, health officials have been unable to identify the source of the contamination, the Centre intégré de santé et de services sociaux de l'Outaouais (CISSSO) said in a Friday news release.

Legionellosis is the broad term for a number of diseases, including legionnaires' disease, caused by the water-borne legionella bacteria.

The bacteria thrives in stagnant or warm water, according to Health Canada. It can be found in places like hot tubs, public spas, plumbing networks and the cooling towers used in the air conditioning systems of large buildings.

Legionnaires' disease leads to pneumonia with symptoms potentially lasting for several months. Another disease connected to legionella, Pontiac fever, is easier to catch but causes milder symptoms and usually resolves without treatment. 

A positive legionellosis case in September forced The Ottawa Hospital to temporarily turn off the water supply at its General campus.

Several cases of legionellosis are detected each year in the Outaouais, and it's possible no common source will be uncovered during the investigation, CISSSO said.

Anyone who develops such symptoms as fever, nausea, a wet or dry cough, vomiting or diarrhea should call Info-Santé at 811, the health authority said.


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