NewsDesk @bactiman63

Nova Scotia Health continues to investigate the source of Legionella infections in the New Glasgow area. Public Health is working closely with the Department of Environment and Climate Change to identify possible sources for the bacteria by testing several facility water systems as part of the environmental investigation.

Legionella bacteria

Public Health has identified that a possible site where Legionella has grown is one of the cooling towers at the Aberdeen Hospital. While awaiting final test results, the cooling tower has been shut off out of an abundance of caution. A cooling tower is a specialized device used to remove heat from water and transfer a small amount of evaporated water to the air. The cooling tower is an integral component to the overall hospital air conditioning system.

“Nova Scotia Health proactively carried out additional cleaning on the Aberdeen Hospital cooling tower including chlorination which generally is an immediate resolution. We will continue to collaborate with partners and follow the guidance of Public Health as we work through this,” said Bethany McCormick, Nova Scotia Health’s Vice President Operations for Northern Zone.

As of Aug. 3, there were nine confirmed and 20 possible (unconfirmed) cases of Legionella in the area.

Nova Scotia Health assures local residents that there is very low health risk associated with receiving care, visiting or working at the Aberdeen Hospital. People can come to the hospital for care if they need it.

Subscribe to Outbreak News TV on YouTube

It is important to note that Legionella cannot be spread from person to person and not from drinking tap water. The source of most Legionella infections is breathing the mist or vapor from a contaminated water source, such as evaporating cooling systems, hot tubs, and decorative water features. Legionella is also present in soil and freshwater environments and grows in specific warm temperature ranges.

Legionella is present in the environment in Nova Scotia, however it rarely causes severe illness. Those at higher risk for illness include people who are over 40 (risk increases with age), people who smoke and/or people who have chronic health conditions, such as lung problems, cancer or weakened immune system. For others, the risk is very low. Legionella disease can be treated with antibiotics when diagnosed early.

Although the cooling tower has been disabled at Aberdeen Hospital, residents of New Glasgow, Trenton and Stellarton continue to be advised to watch for symptoms of illness, as they can begin 2-14 days after exposure. Symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Dry cough
  • Muscle aches
  • Headache
  • Loss of appetite
  • Diarrhea

If you are in the areas listed above, and begin to experience any of these symptoms, please contact a health care provider.