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Legionnaires’ disease outbreak at seniors’ residence in Dollard-des-Ormeaux sends two to hospital

Sunrise residence in Dollard-des-Ormeaux. Tim Sargeant/Global News

An outbreak of Legionnaire’s Disease at a seniors’ residence in the West Island has sent two seniors to hospital while five others have become ill.

The cases have occurred at the Sunrise Residence in Dollard des Ormeaux.

In an email to Global News, a spokesperson writes that the water cooling system at the Sunrise Residence has been decontaminated.

“Our infection prevention and control team was deployed to support the (Sunrise) residence and put all the measures in place to ensure the safety of its residents,” said Hélène Bergeron-Gamache. It continues, “The epidemiological investigation is continuing to ensure that the outbreak is well under control.”

Two residents were hospitalized with Legionnaires’ Disease and several more became ill with Pontiac fever, a flu like illness, according to a spokesperson at the head office of Sunrise.

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“Our number one concern, above all else, is the safety and security of our residents,” John Chibnall of Sunrise wrote in an email to Global News. “We are continuing to monitor the situation within the community to ensure we meet the needs of our residents and their families.”

Legionnaires’ Disease is a severe form of pneumonia caused by the legionella bacterium. Its source is usually contaminated cooling systems used for large scale air conditioning units. But the bacteria can also be traced to other water sources such as massive ventilation systems that use water.

“There is an increase in incidents of cases around the summertime pretty much every year in Quebec,” Dr. Donald Vinh, an MUHC Infectious Disease Specialist, told Global News.

READ MORE: Montreal public health investigates after 10 cases of legionnaires’ disease, 2 deaths

“Because it’s an infection of the lungs, this can cause things like fever, cough, trouble breathing, a bit of chest pain,” he said.

People often become sick when they inhale water droplets that contain the bacteria. Senior citizens and those with weakened immune systems are most at risk but unlike COVID-19, legionella is not contagious.

“It may look like there is person-to-person transmission, but in fact, it is often traceable back to a common water source,” Dr. Vinh said. “That really does require specialized testing in hospitals to confirm the diagnosis. Things like an X-ray.”

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Bergeron-Gamache says officials are doing all they can to ensure no else at Sunrise becomes ill.

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