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Legionnaires' Investigation

Legionnaires’ disease in Barrie

Updated Dec. 20, 2019

The health unit is currently investigating an increase in Legionnaires’ disease cases in the City of Barrie. Five cases of Legionnaires’ disease have been recently confirmed in individuals who reside in the city. While local cases of Legionnaires’ is not uncommon, the health unit usually sees an average of two cases in Barrie residents every year. In addition, most cases of Legionnaires’ disease are seen in late summer and early fall.
Legionnaires’ disease is a type of pneumonia (lung infection) caused by the Legionella bacteria. People over the age of 50, smokers, or those with certain medical conditions, including weakened immune systems, chronic lung disease or other chronic health conditions, are at increased risk for Legionnaires’ disease.
Legionnaires' disease can cause a variety of symptoms. The most common are fever, chills, cough and difficulty breathing. Other symptoms can also develop, such as headaches, muscle pain and digestive problems (e.g. loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea). 
The bacteria responsible for the disease is commonly found in natural freshwater environments. However, it can become a health concern in water systems, such as cooling towers, plumbing systems in large buildings and certain medical devices when conditions allow the bacteria to multiply.
People can develop Legionnaires’ disease when they inhale aerosolized water droplets containing the bacteria. People cannot get Legionnaires’ disease by drinking water and it cannot be passed from person to person. Most people exposed to the bacteria do not become ill.  
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