According to news media, officials in Quebec City have uncovered the source of the outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease that has killed 13 people and sickened 180 since it began. The source is Complexe Jacques Cartier, a low-rise office building in Quebec City. The building’s rooftop cooling tower had been treated twice and tested in late August. Results were received on Tuesday and the cooling tower was shut down after officials confirmed that the strain of Legionella found was the same as the one found in 16 of 17 samples from patients: Legionella pneumophila serogroup 1, pulsovar A.
The fact that officials have located the source of this massive outbreak is obviously good news. Combined with the fact that there have been no new cases with onset dates later than August 29, it is safe to say that the outbreak is coming to an end. However, with such a large-scale outbreak, it is not outside the realm of possibility that additional sources could exist. News reports throughout the outbreak made it apparent that poorly-maintained cooling towers existed in many locations in the city, and that the general trend was a lack of Legionella-preparedness on the part of building owners. To make the public feel truly safe, stricter regulations must be put in place that emphasize prevention of future outbreaks and hold building owners accountable. The danger of further outbreaks does not disappear now that the source of the present outbreak has been identified.
Jules Zacher is an attorney who focuses on Legionnaires’ disease litigation and has worked on cases throughout the U.S. His website, www.legionnairelawyer.com is a resource for information on Legionnaires’ disease, and related litigation.