Public Health says there are 3 confirmed cases and 9 suspected cases of the disease.
Some residents of a New Glasgow, N.S., nursing home are in hospital with a severe form of pneumonia after several cases of the potentially fatal legionnaires’ disease were detected at the facility.
In a news release Thursday, Nova Scotia Public Health announced there were three confirmed cases of legionnaires’ disease at Glen Haven Manor. There were also nine probable cases of the disease and one case of Pontiac fever, a milder version of the same illness.
The release said the cases include residents and a staff member, and a significant number of those who are sick are in hospital.
The bacteria that causes legionnaires’ disease can be found in waterways, and Public Health said the water at the nursing home is being tested.
Symptoms of the disease include pneumonia, fever, chills, dry cough, muscle aches, loss of appetite and diarrhea.
The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety’s website says recovery may take weeks. It says 15 per cent to 25 per cent of cases have been fatal.
But Dr. Cristin Muecke, the regional medical officer of Nova Scotia’s northern health zone, said the bacteria behind legionnaires’ disease, legionella, rarely makes healthy people sick.
On average, the disease affects fewer than 100 people in Canada per year. Muecke said people who are elderly or have medical conditions are more susceptible.
“If people are diagnosed and treated early, prompt treatment definitely improves outcome,” she said in an interview.
The news release said the most common way to catch the disease is by breathing mist from contaminated water, such as in hot showers or through centralized air conditioning. The disease is not contagious.
Legionella bacteria is found in small amounts in Nova Scotian waterways, according to Nova Scotia Health’s website.
The website says the bacteria only becomes a problem when it is able to grow, especially in warm stagnant water.
Glen Haven Manor’s CEO, Steve Scannell, declined to do an interview. In a statement Thursday, he said the facility has put in place water-use rules for some staff, residents and visitors. They include drinking bottled water instead of tap water, having baths instead of showers, and avoiding whirlpools.
The statement also said people who have concerns about specific residents should contact the facility’s resident care department.
Public Health is working with the Environment Department to run environmental tests at Glen Haven Manor. Muecke said that involves testing the facility’s water system, and nearby Aberdeen Hospital’s cooling towers. She said finding the exact source will take time.
“It’s going to depend a little bit on strategy and a little bit on luck,” she said. “The disease would have infected people last week, so the bacteria might not still be there.”
In the meantime, she had this advice: “Individuals in the New Glasgow area, they should just be aware of the signs and symptoms of legionella. If anyone feels that they are, their symptoms are compatible with legionella, they should definitely seek the advice of a physician or another health-care provider.”
Source : CBC