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Montreal public health says Legionnaires’ outbreak in LaSalle under control

Legionella Pneumophila, the bacteria responsible for Legionnaires' disease. BSIP/UIG Via Getty Images

A total of eight people have been hospitalized in Montreal in connection with a probable outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease.

Public health officials, however, believe the situation is now under control.

Legionnaires’ disease is caused by breathing in fine water droplets suspended in the air that are contaminated with Legionella bacteria. Its symptoms include cough, fever, chills aches and shortness of breath.

At the end of September, Montreal public health (DRSP) indicated that seven cases had been reported between Sept. 9 and 22, among LaSalle borough residents.

Read more: Montreal public health investigating possible outbreak of legionnaires’ disease

The DRSP then asked the health network to be vigilant in order to identify other cases, and an eighth one was added to the list.

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The latter was reported in the same area on Sept. 30, but the person had begun to fall ill on Sept. 15.

While eight people were hospitalized, no deaths were reported.

Public health has been busy trying to identify the source of contamination by examining water cooling towers, splash parks in the area, construction sites and other areas where work on the city’s water network were being carried out.

Read more: Deal struck in 2012 case of Quebec City legionnaires’ disease outbreak that killed 14

A public health team was also deployed in the field in order to find other potential sources and contact citizens for this purpose.

Authorities, however, failed to pinpoint the contaminated water source.

Given the timeframe from which the last case was identified, “it is therefore likely that the source has been controlled,” said Public Health, which also believes the eight patients were likely exposed to the same source.

“The lack of new cases since leads us to believe that the outbreak is over, but we are continuing to monitor the situation,” health authorities said.

Each year, about 50 Montrealers contract this disease.

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In 2012, an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease in Quebec City killed 14 people after 181 contracted the illness.

— With files from Global’s Annabelle Olivier