The health unit is investigating eight cases of Legionnaires’ disease in the Orillia area.
The cases involve people who either live in the city or who have visited Orillia in recent weeks who are over the age of 50 and had existing lung issues. CTV News has learned that in each case, the person was in the downtown core. Testing is now being done on several water towers in the area.
Even so, medical professionals say there is no cause for alarm. “The risk to residents and visitors is very low,” explains Dr. Charles Gardner. “At this time, we do not recommend Orillia residents to change their work, play and travel plans.”
Legionnaires’ disease is a form of atypical pneumonia commonly found in natural freshwater environments. It cannot be contracted from drinking water, or person to person. Legionnaires’ disease is developed when inhaling aerosolized water droplets that contain the bacteria.
Symptoms include coughing, shortness of breath, fever, headaches and muscle pain. Other symptoms may develop, like loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea.
Smokers, older adults, and anyone with a compromised lung function are at a higher risk for Legionnaires’ disease.
The health unit is advising anyone with concerns to contact Telehealth Ontario at 1-866-797-0000. Anyone having difficulty breathing should seek immediate medical attention.