Quebec health officials report one more fatality today from the ongoing Legionnaires’ disease outbreak in Quebec City.
According to a CBC News report Sunday, Quebec’s public health board says with the report of the newest fatality, 11 individuals have died and 169 people have been infected with the bacterial respiratory infection since the outbreak began in July.
Just in one day, five additional cases were reported and all five became infected approximately 10 to 15 days ago according to the head of Quebec City’s public health agency, Francois Desbiens.
However, with the most recent cases, health officials in Quebec City say they are seeing fewer cases and the outbreak appears to be tapering off.
Well over 100 building cooling towers in the city have been inspected and disinfected in response to the outbreak.
Legionnaires’ disease gained national notoriety in 1976 when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) discovered it during an epidemic of pneumonia among American legion members at a convention in Philadelphia.
The causative organism is the bacteria, Legionella pneumophila. Other species have also been implicated in Legionnaires’ disease. The legionella bacteria are found throughout nature, because of this, most people become exposed to it but few develop symptoms.
The primary place in nature it’s found is water sources particularly at warmer temperatures; lakes, rivers and moist soil.
It is also found in man-made facilities (frequently the source of outbreaks) such as air-conditioning ducts and cooling towers, humidifiers, whirlpools and hospital equipment.
People are exposed through inhaling infectious aerosols from these water sources. There is no transmission from person to person.
The infection can appear in two clinical forms: Legionnaires’ disease and Pontiac fever.
Both conditions are typified by headache, fever, body aches and occasionally abdominal pain and diarrhea.
Legionnaires’ disease is the cause of pneumonia where a non-productive cough is typical. Fatality rates of this form of the infection are around 15 % even with improvements in treatment.
Pontiac fever is a self-limiting flu-like illness that does not progress to pneumonia or death.
Certain health conditions make you more susceptible to infection to include increasing age, smoking, chronic lung disease, malignancy and diabetes mellitus.
Legionnaires’ disease is treatable with antibiotics.
To following things can be done as preventive measures: cooling towers should be drained when not in use and cleaned to remove scale and sediment and biocides can be used to limit bacterial growth. Tap water should not be used in respiratory therapy devices.
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