The source of Legionella infections in and around Evergem has been found, reported the Care and Health Agency during a press conference.
“The public prosecutor has started a criminal investigation and the investigating judge has asked us to respect the confidentiality of the ongoing investigation, which is why we will not disclose the name of the company that caused the infection,” said Joris Moonens of the Agency for Care and Health.
32 people have been infected with the Legionella bacteria in recent weeks, and two of them died from the effects.
Legionella is a bacterial infection which takes various forms, the most common being Legionella pneumophila, which has an effect like pneumonia. The illness is commonly referred to as Legionnaires’ Disease.
Earlier investigations had found the bacteria in five companies in the canal zone in Ghent. Additional genetic testing of bacteria found in patients and the companies made it possible to link the Legionella of the patients to a specific company.
The involved company disinfected its cooling installation after the inspection by the Agency for Care and Health, after which no more bacteria were found. The latest infection dates from last Saturday (25 May), but the incubation period for the infection can run up to 19 days, so new cases could still turn up until over the first week of June.
“The investigation is in the hands of the investigating judge now, because of the formal complaints by the two mayors of Ghent and Evergem. They will check whether criminal offences have been committed, and whether all the measures that should have been taken, were actually taken,” said Annelies Verstraete of the East Flanders Public Prosecutor’s Office. “If there are criminal offences who can ultimately be held responsible there,” she added.
The public prosecutor’s office is first waiting for the results of the Agency for Care and Health’s investigation.
The Brussels Times