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'I almost died,' Orillia man's road to recovery 'a nightmare' after contracting Legionella


The Legionnaires' outbreak in Orillia may be over, but one local man says his road to recovery after contracting the disease has been a "nightmare."

"I have a heart condition because of this. I don't know what my long-term health is."

Jo Brabant, 54, says he was the first of about 35 people in Orillia to fall ill with Legionnaires' disease since late September.

"I got really, really sick. I got pneumonia. I got sepsis. I almost died. I lost the ability to walk. I lost the ability to talk. I had to go on oxygen in the hospital. I had to go on dialysis," he says. "It was a really, really tough go."

The outbreak turned deadly, with one person in their 60s losing their life after becoming infected.

Soldiers' Memorial Hospital confirmed it cared for 27 patients with Legionella, with one person in the intensive care unit.

Throughout its investigation, the health unit determined one of the 35 cases of Legionella was linked to the Rotary Place water cooling tower, resulting in the facility's closure.

Brabant, a long-time Orillia resident, lives in the city's west end but says he never went into the Rotary Place building before being hospitalized for three weeks.

In an interview with CTV News on October 12, Dr. Colin Lee, associate medical officer of health, said water aerosols from cooling towers had been known "to infect someone as far as 10 kilometres away, although most are within three kilometres."

According to the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit, Legionella bacteria is commonly found in natural freshwater environments but can become a health concern in water systems, such as cooling towers.

"I haven't regained all my strength," Brabant says. "I'm probably am at 60 per cent strength," he says. "I have great fatigue and lots of pain and aches all the time. It doesn't go away."

The health unit notes that most people exposed to the bacteria don't become ill.

Meanwhile, Brabant is left searching for answers, hoping no one else goes through what he did.

"I don't know that I'm ever going to get better after going through this," he says.

While the City wouldn't provide further details on the outbreak, it said staff was preparing a report to present to council next Wednesday. Top Stories

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