Health officials are issuing a public alert after being made aware of “a cluster of cases of Legionnaires’ disease” in the Guildford area of Surrey, and are currently trying to identify the source.
Legionnaires’ disease is a type of pneumonia caused by the Legionella bacteria. In a release, Fraser Health said Legionella can grow and spread in man-made building water systems that aerosolize water like cooling towers, hot tubs that aren’t drained after each use, decorative fountains, and large plumbing systems.
Patients can get Legionnaires’ disease when they breathe in aerosolized water droplets containing Legionella. “Most healthy people do not get Legionnaires’ disease from being exposed to Legionella,” said Fraser Health. “However, those at higher risk for developing pneumonia are the elderly, smokers, people with chronic lung conditions, and the immunocompromised.”
Fraser Health said patients with suspected or confirmed Legionella infection do not require isolation or contact precautions. “Person-to-person spread of Legionella is exceedingly rare with only one case reported in the literature,” they added.
For laboratory-confirmed cases, Public Health said it will follow-up and get case histories on potential environmental exposures.