Seven cases of legionnaires' disease confirmed in Moncton area
Health officials in New Brunswick are investigating an outbreak of legionellosis after seven cases have been confirmed in the Greater Moncton area since July 7.
Dr. Cristin Muecke, New Brunswick’s deputy chief medical officer of health, says six people of those people were hospitalized and all seven received treatment.
"All seven of those cases have been people that are either living or working in the Moncton area and they've all occurred within the last month," Muecke said. "So that, in and of itself, over that time frame and in that limited area, is unusual."
Muecke says Public Health is investigating to determine potential sources of legionella bacteria, which causes legionellosis -- also known as legionnaires’ disease.
“Although legionellosis is not spread person to person, it is spread when the bacteria are present in an infected water source and fine mists of water from that source are inhaled,” said Muecke.
“Anyone exposed to the bacteria can become infected. Older persons, those with weakened immune systems or chronic diseases, smokers, alcoholics and persons working with man-made water systems, such as maintenance workers on air conditioning systems, are at greater risk of developing the disease.”
Most healthy people who are exposed do not develop the illness.
Legionella live in the environment and can be found in both natural bodies of water, such as ponds, lakes and streams, and in constructed water systems, such as air conditioners, cooling towers, whirlpools, spas and decorative fountains.
Health officials say they haven't identified a common source for the infections.
They also remind people that you can’t get legionella by drinking water, and that home and car air-conditioning units are not a risk for legionella, since they don’t use water to cool.
Individuals who become ill with pneumonia-like or respiratory symptoms, such as fever, chills, cough, shortness of breath, muscle aches and headache, are being urged to seek medical care or call 811.
Twenty-eight cases of legionellosis were reported to Public Health in New Brunswick between 2015 and 2018.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Jessica Ng.