Source of large-scale legionella contamination in Belgium seems to be found

The Belgian Agency for Care & Health (MSF), has probably the source of the large-scale legionella contamination found. The cooling tower of a company in the port of Ghent seems to be the culprit.

The outbreak around the Eastern part of Flanders, Evergem, near Ghent began at the end of april. The total number of patients is on 32, two victims have died.

Legionella is a dangerous bacteria in drinking water systems can prevent, but also wet cooling towers can be a source of contamination. That is a plant that is used for the cooling of a building or an industrial process. The cooling tower atomizes water, as if in a light fog spreading. Through the water spray can bacteria easily end up in the air that people breathe.

The MSF has seventeen companies in the port of Ghent a water sample from the cooling towers removed, and discovered a genetic link between the legionellakiemen that five patients have been identified and the sample from one of those towers.

The MSF think with this find the source of the infection to have been found, but a second source is not yet excluded. All the cooling towers are now as a precaution disinfected daily, so the source of contamination would be gone.

The large majority of patients is in the meantime again at home, two victims are still in intensive care.

Worldwide, three outbreaks per year by wet water towers

Outbreaks caused by wet cooling towers are more common; worldwide, an average of three per year, according to the Dutch national Institute for public Health and the Environment (RIVM).

In the Netherlands in 2006, there was an outbreak by a wet cooling tower in Amsterdam. In that outbreak, 31 people ill, of whom three have died.

Wet cooling towers are available in different shapes and sizes. They can be on the roof of a building, or neatly concealed behind a façade. They are therefore not always visible.

In a wet cooling tower must have a risk assessment and a legionellabeheersplan be prepared, says the RIVM. Also must have a logbook.

In the Netherlands, the wet cooling towers since 2010 to be registered. In practice, a good registration of wet cooling towers is difficult and see in the NETHERLANDS that still not all wet cooling towers can fit into the picture.

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