Another person with the Legionella bacteria has been admitted to hospital, informed the Flemish Care and Health Agency. The latest patient is a man whose symptoms began on Sunday 19 May. He has since been admitted to the intensive care department of the Sint-Lucas Hospital in Ghent.
He has not been questioned yet, so it is not clear where he may have contracted the infection. The other 25 patients were most likely infected in the Ghent canal zone.
The Care and Health Agency takes into account that more patients will probably follow. “The annoying thing about legionella is that there is a long incubation period,” said spokesperson Joris Moonens. “People can get sick up to 19 days after the infection. So the following days even more people with legionella will probably report,” he added.
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.
Symptoms include coughing, difficulty breathing, headache and muscle pain, and can show up anywhere from two to ten days after exposure. The bacterium occurs in fresh water and can be breathed in from water mist from the likes of cooling towers, air conditioning and swimming pools. Most people remain unaffected, but those in poor health are more likely to contract the disease – the elderly, smokers, people with a history of lung disease or a weak immune system. The disease cannot be passed from person to person.