Legionella outbreak in Schijndel: One dead, at least 10 sick
Over ten people have become ill due to the legionella bacteria in Schijndel. One of them passed away. Most of the sick people are in the hospital, infectious disease control doctor Ariene Rietveld of GGD Hart voor Brabant said on Thursday. The majority of infected people are between the ages of 60 and 90.
The source of the infection has not yet been found and is being sought. According to Rietveld, the number of infected people is exceptionally high. She stressed that the outbreak is unrelated to the coronavirus.
The infected people mainly live in the center of Schijndel, said mayor Kees van Rooij during a press conference via Teams. He called the outbreak "worrying" and called on people to be alert. Four of the infected people live in two care centers in Schijndel. According to Rietveld, many vulnerable older people live there who are more susceptible to infection than others. Most people don't get sick from a legionella infection, she said.
She said she feared that the over ten reports are the tip of the iceberg and that more people could become infected. This is all the more worrying because the source of the contamination has not yet been found. The municipality turned off the fountains in Schijndel as a precaution, according to Van Rooij.
The legionella bacteria can live in water, and if it is nebulized, someone can be infected by breathing it in. Drinking the water is less contagious. It takes two to 14 days - usually 5 or 6 days - for a person to become ill. Complaints from a legionella infection can include high fever, chills, confusion, shortness of breath, pneumonia, vomiting, or diarrhea. The GGD calls on people who have these complaints to contact their GP immediately.
The elderly and people in poor health are especially vulnerable. Smokers also run additional risks, according to the GGD. Legionella infections do not pass from person to person.
The search for the source of the contamination focuses on, among other things, jacuzzis, cooling towers, car washes, and water purification systems.