Case of Legionnaires' disease confirmed in Nova Scotia
A large grouping of Gram-negative Legionella pneumophila bacteria are shown in this colorized 8000X electron micrograph image from 2009. (AP / Janice Haney Carr)
Health officials in Nova Scotia have confirmed a case of Legionnaires' disease in the province.
In a statement released on Wednesday, the Nova Scotia Health Authority said that a resident in a multi-unit apartment building in Dartmouth is being treated in hospital.
Three other residents may have also contracted the disease and have been hospitalized. Their cases are being probed as officials await lab results.
The investigation into the source is focused on the apartment building, but the health authority has yet to confirm the cause of the bacteria.
Dr. Gaynor Watson-Creed, a medical officer of health for Nova Scotia, called the threat to locals minimal.
"Most people have little or no risk of catching the disease, which is not contagious and can’t be spread from person to person," said Watson-Creed in the statement.
"The source of this small cluster appears to be localized and it’s unlikely that the broader public is at risk. At the same time, it's important that people are aware and know the symptoms."
Legionnaires' disease is contracted after a person breathes in small droplets of water that have been contaminated with the bacteria.
The bacteria are sometimes spread through air-conditioning systems, whirlpool baths and showers.
Symptoms include fever, chills, dry cough, muscles aches, headaches, loss of appetite and respiratory problems.
The elderly, smokers and people with weakened immune systems are particularly vulnerable to the disease.
There have been several prominent outbreaks of Legionnaires' disease in eastern Canada and United States this summer.
Four cases have been confirmed in New Brunswick since June. All four men have made a full recovery.
Meanwhile, health officials in Quebec continue to investigate an outbreak in the town of Berthierville, about 80 kilometres northeast of Montreal, which has claimed two lives. Sixteen other cases of the disease have been confirmed in the province.
And in New York, the disease killed 12 people and left more than 100 ill after an outbreak in July. An air-conditioning unit in a historic hotel was discovered to be the source of the bacteria.