N.B. health officials declare legionnaires’ outbreak over
Published Thursday, September 12, 2019 12:30PM ADT
Last Updated Thursday, September 12, 2019 8:40PM ADT
The legionnaires' outbreak in the greater Moncton area has been officially declared over.
One cooling tower in the hub city's west end tested positive for the legionella bacteria - but health officials are not disclosing the location.
While it marks the end for some, there are patients with many unanswered questions.
Tuesday marked the 28th day since the source of the outbreak was fixed.
"I'm therefore happy to announce that the legionella outbreak was declared officially over on that day," said Dr. Yves leger, the regional medical officer of health.
Claudette Lirette suffered from the pneumonia-like disease and is still recovering from a medically induced coma.
"Before, I could walk five to six miles a day if I wanted to," said Lirette. "Now I can't. I can't even walk down the street."
There were 16 confirmed cases of the disease. Health officials tested over 80 water samples and 26 potential sites were identified.
Ten cooling towers were tested and one came back positive for legionella. That site is still not being identified.
"If I told you today that it was 'location x' how would that change things?" Leger said. "People have told me 'Well, I'd avoid going there.' I said 'well, OK, but that site's been fixed a month ago.'"
The decision not to identify the original source of the outbreak has frustrated many.
"It is my right to know," Lirette said. "I'm the one that was sick, not them. They don't know what I'm going through."
Said Leger: "There's no risk anymore. That's probably the safest site you could go to in town because we're there every week and we're testing."
Lirette says disclosing an exact location would put an end to a potential rumour mill.
"If the rumours start, it's going to ruin their reputation for the place that it might not have been," Lirette said.
Questions now point to whether any of these cases could have been preventable with little-to-no standards for cooling tower maintenance.
"In most provinces in Canada, there really aren't any requirements," said Leger.
Fifteen of the 16 cases required hospitalization, but there were no fatalities.
The ages of patients ranged from the mid-30s to the mid-90s.
Data is now being collected and analyzed in case there is another outbreak.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Kate Walker.