Fraser Health investigating outbreak of Legionnaires' disease in Surrey

Pearl Mccarthy
September 3, 2018

The Fraser Health Authority says it is investigating a "cluster" of cases of Legionnaires' disease in the Guildford area of Surrey. The bacteria can also be found in air conditioning systems and swimming pools.

Patients can contract Legionnaires' disease, a serious type of pneumonia, when they breathe in small, airborne droplets of water that contain the bacteria, which can grow in a building's water system. Every year, there are between 200 and 500 cases of Legionnaires' disease in the city, according to health officials. Nationwide, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said there were 6,100 cases in 2016.

Those who've been in the Guildford in the past 10 days and who show pneumonia symptoms (fever, fatigue, cough, shortness of breath) are advised to seek medical attention.

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They should also seek medical treatment if they've been in the Guildford area since August 21. It can not be transmitted between people, however.

Three people outside Vancouver have been hospitalized with Legionnaires' disease, a severe form of pneumonia that can last for months.

Most healthy people don't get sick from the bacteria, but smokers, the elderly and those with pre-existing lung conditions or compromised immune systems are at higher risk. People who visited the area more than two weeks ago and have not developed symptoms are not at risk for disease.

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