Legionella outbreak source found in Ghent paper mill

Legionella outbreak source found in Ghent paper mill
The Langerbrugge paper mill has said it is a "probable source" of a deadly Legionella outbreak ongoing for nearly a month. Credit: Google Street View

A paper mill has been identified as a "probable source" of infection in a Legionella epidemic that broke out near Ghent and which has already claimed the lives of two people and infected dozens more.

On Tuesday, the Stora Enso company, which owns the paper mill, said that the Flemish Care and Health Agency had identified their paper factory as the possible source of the outbreak.

"The Flemish Care and Health Agency in Belgium has identified Langerbrugge Mill as one possible source of the Legionella bacteria infection in the local community," a company spokesperson said in a statement.

The statement follows an announcement by the Agency, which said last week it had found the source of the infection but had chosen not to disclose company names the investigation was ongoing.

The mill is located near the Ghent canal and specializes in manufacturing recycled newsprint and magazine paper.

In the statement, the spokesperson said Stora Enso was working in "close cooperation" with authorities and medical experts, and that it was taking steps to "thoroughly" clean and disinfect their cooling water.

"The cooling tower will be started again with strict monitoring by mill operations and supporting experts after inspection and approval by the Flemish Care and Health Agency," the statement reads.

32 people have been infected with the Legionella bacteria in recent weeks, and two of them died from the effects since the epidemic first broke out around May 10.

Gabriela Galindo

The Brussels Times

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