30 August 2012
Legionnaire’s disease in Quebec, Canada
An outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease has been reported in the city of Quebec, Canada .
As of 26 August 2012, a total of 104 cases including eight deaths have been reported since the outbreak began on 31 July 2012.
Although the source of the outbreak has not been identified, cooling towers across the city are being inspected, sampled and disinfected .
Legionnaires’ disease is a bacterial infection usually causing pneumonia. Symptoms include cough, shortness of breath, and fever; gastrointestinal upset can also occur. The disease is more frequent in the elderly, smokers and those with pre-existing lung disease or chronic medical conditions.
Legionella spp. bacteria are distributed widely in the environment. They can live in many types of water including natural sources such as rivers and streams, and in artificial sources such as water-cooling towers, hot and cold water systems and spa pools. Tourists can become exposed to the bacteria if the water systems are not properly maintained and become contaminated.
Further information about Legionnaire’s disease is available in NaTHNaC’s Health Information sheet: Legionellosis.
Advice for travellers
The risk to most travellers to Quebec is low, and no special precautions are currently advised by Canadian public health authorities.
Travellers visiting Quebec who develop an influenza-like illness (fever, cough, shortness of breath) during their stay or up to 14 days after their return home, and who believe they may be infected, should seek medical care for appropriate investigations and possible treatment. There are several effective antibiotics.
Advice for health professionals
Legionnaires’ disease should be considered as a potential diagnosis for cases of atypical pneumonia throughout the year. When appropriate symptoms are present, a history of travel should act as a specific prompt for clinicians to evaluate for Legionella infection.
Information for health professionals assessing individuals with suspected Legionnaires’ disease is available from the Health Protection Agency.
1. Agence de la santé et des services sociaux de la Capitale-Nationale. Éclosion de cas de légionellose – état de la situation le 26 août 2012. 26 August 2012. [In French][Accessed 30 August 2012]. Available at: http://www.rrsss03.gouv.qc.ca/communiques/COM_
2. Agence de la santé et des services sociaux de la Capitale-Nationale. Éclosion de cas de légionellose - La Direction régionale de santé publique de la Capitale-Nationale fait le point sur la situation. 20 August 2012. [In French][Accessed 30 August 2012]. Available at: http://communiques.gouv.qc.ca/gouvqc/communiques/GPQF/
- NaTHNaC Health Information Sheet: Legionellosis
- Health Protection Agency: Legionnaires’ Disease
- Health Protection Agency: Guidelines for investigating single cases of Legionnaires’ disease.