Health Unit Concludes Legionnaires’ Disease Outbreak in Orillia Over

The SMDHU investigation announced on Oct. 7 into a Legionnaires’ disease outbreak in Orillia is now concluded and the outbreak is declared over.

Following the health unit’s extensive investigation of 27 known cooling towers at 17 sites in Orillia, 10 of these sites were tested. It was determined that a strain of Legionella found in the Orillia Rotary Place cooling tower was a genetic match with one sputum sample of a case of Legionnaires’ disease among the 35 cases. Testing for the source of the other 34 cases could not be done. In addition, testing could not be done for seven of the sites as they had been shut down for the season before testing could be completed. The cooling towers in operation in Orillia that have been identified by the health unit (both public and private) are being closely monitored.

“We are confident that with the testing, monitoring and completion of any required cleaning and disinfection of the cooling towers that continue to operate in Orillia at this time there is no further risk of transmission associated with this outbreak. As such, the health unit is declaring the conclusion of this outbreak,” said Dr. Charles Gardner, SMDHU medical officer of health.

Testing for Legionella bacteria has been completed every few days since the Rotary Place cooling tower resumed operations following the repair of the heat exchanger at the end of October. The tests completed on Nov. 1 and 4 provided no detection of Legionella bacteria; however, testing pursuant to the City’s rigorous testing protocols detected low levels of Legionella bacteria within the cooling tower on Nov. 7. While the levels were not high enough to be an active risk to the community at this time, the City of Orillia determined that the safest option was to shut down the cooling tower until a root cause can be determined.

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