Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Legionnaires' outbreak in Quebec City checked

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QUEBEC City's large legionnaires' disease outbreak appears to be under control, the city's public health director said Friday.

Dr. Francois Desbiens said measures the public health department took to ensure cooling towers in the outbreak zone have been cleaned and disinfected appear to be bearing fruit. But it is too soon to say the outbreak is over, he said.

"At this time what we say is the outbreak is under control, because we don't have new cases with the beginning of the disease after Aug. 29," Desbiens said.

"But as there is an incubation period from two to 10 days and some people could have their disease (set in) 14 days or 20 days later -- but this is rare -- we prefer to wait... till we're there to be sure scientifically that the outbreak is completely terminated."

His office reported one additional case on Friday, bringing the total to date to 176 cases. Since the outbreak began in July, 11 people have died from the disease.

There have been three cases this week, a significant slowing since earlier in the outbreak. None of the people reported ill this week started to show symptoms after Aug. 29, which is why Desbiens hopes the outbreak is on the wane.

His office is also making some progress in its efforts to find the source of contagion, though the work is slow because the bug grows poorly and slowly in a laboratory setting.

Legionnaires' disease is caused by legionella bacteria. There are 40 species of legionella, but a subtype called Legionella pneumophila is generally responsible for legionnaires' infections.

 

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 8, 2012 A21

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