At least 16 people in the Evergem municipality of East Flanders province in northern Belgium has been sickened with Legionanaires’ disease, according to the Flemish Agency for Health and Safety (computer translated). 

Legionella bacteria

In addition, one patient has died while being treated at Ghent University Hospital.

The first complaints from patients date from the period between April 29 and May 6. the most recent patients presented with illness between 7 and 10 May.

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The patients vary in age between 25 and 90 years, with an average of 58.6 years. 6 of them are older than 65, 9 have a chronic illness or a reduced resistance.

Water samples have been taken for testing in the cooling towers of 17 companies in the canal zone. Information about their installations has been requested from 2 other companies. However, nothing is yet known about the possible source of the infections.

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7 of the 16 patients live in Evergem and two live on the border in Oostakker. This continues to indicate that the source of the contamination in the vicinity of Evergem must be found.

Joris Moonens, spokesperson for Care and Health said, “We have a hotline where companies can register their cooling towers, which means that we have already been able to investigate 19 companies. We call on companies in the Ghent canal zone to carefully check their cooling tower installations and to report to us, if they have not yet done so. Incidentally, the companies are cooperating very well with this research.”