By NewsDesk   @bactiman63

In a follow-up on the Legionnaires’ disease outbreak in the Evergem area, Flanders, Belgium, health authorities say the national reference center found a genetic similarity between a Legionella sample from one of the sampled companies and the Legionella samples from 5 patients, noting that this is a very strong scientific argument to support the statement that these five patients became ill due to an infection with Legionella germs from the cooling tower of this unnamed company.

This image shows Legionella colonies growing on a Petri dish.
Image/Otto Schwake

This cooling tower is therefore the most likely source of contamination from the outbreak of legionellosis in the Ghent canal zone. The company in question has carried out repeated disinfections since May 15, so that the risk of infection is under control. Increased vigilance is maintained for up to 19 days after the last patient. The company is now permanently monitored.

Joris Moonens, spokesperson for Care and Health: “The results of the lab indicate that these 5 people have most likely fallen ill due to emissions from the cooling tower in this company. For us, that means that this company has most likely been the source of infection for patients in this outbreak. The company in question is also central to the zone that we had defined on the basis of our risk analyzes. Only in patients whose respiratory samples we have, can we prove that with evidence from the lab. But since all these people became ill in the same period and in the same region, we consider it very likely that they have been infected by the same source. ”

There is a criminal investigation in which an investigating judge has been appointed. The investigating judge asks the Flemish government to respect the secret of the investigation and not to mention the names of companies.

Joris Moonens: “We naturally regret the fact that 2 people have since died as a result of the Legionella infection and the affected families express our condolences. Regarding the health status of patients, we can say that of the 32 patients in this outbreak, 21 people are now home. 9 people are still in the hospital, 2 of them in intensive care. The doctors report a slowly favorable evolution for these last patients. ”