Investigation after “a few cases” of legionellosis in Gatineau

An investigation by the public health authorities of the Outaouais is underway because of “some cases” of legionellosis recently observed in Gatineau.
In a statement released Wednesday morning, the Outaouais Integrated Health and Social Services Center (CISSSO) states that “the current investigation has not yet identified a source of contamination of the recorded cases” . The organization also specifies that it could be that no “common environmental source” can be identified.

Legionnaires’ disease is this respiratory infection caused by a bacterium that caused 13 deaths in the Quebec City region in 2012. The bacterium Legionella pneumophila – “can be transmitted when there is dispersal in the ambient air of fine droplets of Contaminated water “, but is not transmitted from person to person, says the CISSSO.

Dr. Christelle Kom Mogto, CISSSO Public Health Physician, said in an interview that the exact number of cases observed in Gatineau can not be disclosed for reasons of confidentiality. She points out, however, that they “can be counted on the fingers of one hand” and have all been recorded in the last ten days in patients who are vulnerable to complications.

In particular, the authorities will assess whether the places of residence, work and leisure of people who have been infected in recent days can identify a possible common source of exposure.

Other people may have been infected but have only flu-like symptoms and have recovered without the need for consultation, said Dr. Kom Mogto.

The CISSSO’s Public Health Department stresses that “this bacterium can find favorable conditions for its growth in lukewarm water sources in the community, such as water cooling towers (ERTs) in buildings, or of individual water such as water heaters or spas “.

Cases are reported each year in the Outaouais. Recent cases in Gatineau, however, force authorities to make recommendations.

Smokers, heavy drinkers, the elderly, those with a chronic illness and those who are immunosuppressed should therefore “do not hesitate to consult if they develop symptoms such as fever, cough with or without sputum, breathing difficulties. “.

It is also recommended to maintain the temperature of the water heaters to 60 ° C, using “an anti-scald device in the style of the shower and bath faucets”.

The cleaning of devices where droplets are created in suspension – shower head, spa, humidifier, etc. – is also suggested.

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