Rotary Place cooling tower closed after testing high for legionella bacteria
The Rotary Place in Orillia is seen in this Google Maps image (Google Maps)
The water tower at Rotary Place in Orillia has been shut down after the health unit says tests indicated higher than normal levels of legionella bacteria in the tower.
Nine people in the Orillia area have been diagnosed with Legionnaires' disease, according to the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit's medical officer of health, Dr. Charles Gardner.
The health unit conducted tests on the water tower three weeks ago after the first cases of the illness were diagnosed. In each case, the infected person had spent time in the downtown core.
Health officials say there is no cause for public concern about being at or around Rotary Place.
Mayor Steve Clark says the tower will be disinfected. "We have been working closely with the health unit since the Legionnaires' disease cluster was identified in Orillia. I want to reiterate the health unit's message that it is safe for people to continue to use Rotary Place."
Legionnaires' disease is a form of pneumonia commonly found in natural freshwater environments. It cannot be contracted from drinking water, or person to person. The disease develops by inhaling aerosolized water droplets that contain the bacteria.
Symptoms include coughing, shortness of breath, fever, headaches and muscle pain. Other symptoms may develop, like loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea.
The city says all municipally-owned cooling towers were sterilized on Tuesday while officials waited on the sample results.
The tower at Rotary Place will cease activity until it can be thoroughly cleaned, and another test is done on Sunday, but Rotary Place will remain open. However, all programming is cancelled for the weekend.
Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit officals advise anyone with concerns to contact Telehealth Ontario at 1-866-797-0000. Anyone having difficulty breathing should seek immediate medical attention.