FREDERICTON (GNB) – The Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health is investigating an outbreak of seven confirmed cases of legionellosis in the Greater Moncton area.

“Public Health is investigating to determine potential sources of legionella bacteria,” said Dr. Cristin Muecke, deputy chief medical officer of health. “Out of an abundance of caution, we recommend individuals who become ill with pneumonia-like or respiratory symptoms, such as fever, chills, cough, shortness of breath, muscle aches and headache, promptly seek medical care or call 811.”

Legionellosis is a disease caused by bacteria called Legionella. These bacteria are found worldwide. They live in the environment and can be found in both natural bodies of water (such as ponds, lakes and streams) and in constructed water systems (such as air conditioners, cooling towers, whirlpools, spas and decorative fountains). People do not become ill from Legionella by drinking water. Home and car air conditioning units do not use water to cool, so they are not a risk for Legionella.

“Although legionellosis is not spread person to person, it is spread when the bacteria are present in an infected water source and fine mists of water from that source are inhaled,” said Muecke. “Anyone exposed to the bacteria can become infected. Older persons, those with weakened immune systems or chronic diseases, smokers, alcoholics and persons working with man-made water systems, such as maintenance workers on air conditioning systems, are at greater risk of developing the disease.”

In New Brunswick, 28 cases were reported to Public Health between 2015 and 2018.

More information on legionellosis is available online.