Officials with Fraser Health report investigating a cluster of cases of Legionnaires’ disease in the Guildford area of Surrey, British Columbia, Canada.

Legionella bacteria Image/CDC
Legionella bacteria

Public Health is advising anyone who has developed pneumonia-like symptoms with a high-risk condition (e.g., chronic lung conditions, smokers, elderly, immunocompromised) to seek medical attention. If they have been in the Guildford area of Surrey in the past 10 days (i.e., since August 21st), they should also mention this to their doctor for testing, advice, and treatment.

Legionnaires’ disease is caused by a bacterium called Legionella. Legionella is commonly found in the environment, particularly in freshwater, groundwater, and soil. The bacterium can grow and spread in human-made building water systems like cooling towers, hot tubs that aren’t drained after each use, decorative fountains, and large plumbing systems.

People can get Legionnaires’ disease when they breathe in small droplets of water in the air that contain the bacterium. Most healthy people do not get Legionnaires’ disease from being exposed to Legionella. However, people who are elderly, smokers, people with chronic lung conditions, and who are immunocompromised are at higher risk of getting sick. They can develop pneumonia and symptoms like fever, shortness of breath, severe fatigue, abdominal pain, and diarrhea.