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Legionnaires Investigation

Investigation concluded

Updated Nov. 19, 2019

The investigation into a Legionnaires' disease cluster in Orillia, announced on Oct. 11, 2019, is now concluded and declared over with no risk of further transmission of the disease associated with this cluster.

The investigation determined that the strain of Legionella found in the Rotary Place cooling tower was a close match in two cases of Legionnaires' disease that were included in the cluster. The Rotary Place cooling tower was fully disinfected after tests showed higher levels of Legionella bacteria in late October. Follow-up tests of the Rotary Place cooling tower have come back unable to detect Legionella.

A news release was jointly issued by the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit and the City of Orillia on Nov. 19 to announce the conclusion of the investigation.

The bacteria can cause Legionnaires' disease, medically known as Legionellosis. This is a lung disease that causes symptoms like pneumonia and can be life threatening for some people. Fortunately most people exposed to the bacteria do not become ill.

Legionella 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.

In Orillia there were a total of 10 confirmed cases of Legionnaires' disease associated with the cluster. Nine of the patients are now out of hospital, and it is believed that one fatality may be related to this cluster. No new cases have been identified since early October.

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