Officials investigating ‘cluster’ of Legionnaires’ disease cases in Surrey
The Fraser Health Authority has confirmed a “cluster” of cases of Legionnaires’ disease in the Guildford area of Surrey.
The organization says public health officials are now trying to track down the source of the bacteria.
The Fraser Health Authority is also advising anyone who has developed pneumonia-like symptoms and who is at higher risk — people such as smokers, the elderly or those with chronic lung conditions — to visit a doctor.
Symptoms can include cough, fatigue, fever, abdominal pain and diarrhea, said Fraser Health Medical Health Officer Dr. Aamir Bharmal.
“People who are exposed to it, specifically people who are at high risk to it, may start to see symptoms within two to 10 days,” said Bharmal.
Anyone who was in Surrey’s Guildford neighbourhood in the past 10 days and is now showing symptoms should also inform their doctor, the health authority added.
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Legionnaires’ disease is caused by a bacteria known as Legionella, which is commonly found in the natural environment, including fresh water, groundwater and the soil.
“It can grow and spread within manmade building water systems, so things like shower heads and faucets, cooling towers, hot tubs and large plumbing systems,” said Bharmal.
“When it does that, what it can do is aerosolize, go out into the air, and when people breathe it, specifically people who have high risk conditions, they can develop pneumonia from it.”
Legionnaires’ disease can, in extreme cases, be fatal.
In August 2015, 12 people died after contracting the bacteria in New York.
Fraser Health says most healthy people who come in contact with Legionella don’t get sick, but people with weaker or compromised immune systems can be at risk.
People who do contract the disease can be treated with antibiotics.
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