The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit has given Orillia the all-clear after nearly a dozen residents fell ill with Legionnaire’s Disease. The Health Unit confirms one fatality could be connected to this cluster of cases.
Ten cases were reported in the city in early-October, while a health unit investigation later led to the closing of the cooling tower at Rotary Place. Officials say the strain of legionella bacteria found at the tower was a close match to two of the cases of the disease. Following a thorough scrubbing and a series of clean test results, the tower was reopened.
“The health unit has concluded its investigation into the cluster of Legionnaire’s disease in Orillia, and people can feel comfortable to go about their regular work, recreation and travel plans,” said Dr. Charles Gardner, Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit (SMDHU) Medical Officer of Health. “There were a total of 10 confirmed cases of Legionnaire’s associated with the cluster. Nine of the patients are now out of hospital, and it is believed that one fatality may be related to this cluster. No new cases have been identified since early October. The health unit will be conducting a post incident review on best practices and advocacy to develop policy regarding prevention of Legionnaire’s in water systems, including cooling towers, where the bacteria can develop.”
The Rotary Place cooling tower has a regular maintenance program, which includes biweekly chemical treatment and an annual test for legionella bacteria by a third-party contractor.
“On behalf of the City of Orillia, I would like to express our sincere sympathy to the family and friends of the individual who passed away and to those who have fallen ill. The City of Orillia has worked closely with the health unit throughout the entire investigation and will continue to do so to help ensure this does not happen again,” said Mayor Steve Clarke. “We will be collaborating with the health unit and the province in an effort to help prevent this type of incident from happening elsewhere.”