Guild­ford Wal­mart closed over con­cerns of Le­gion­naires’ dis­ease re­opens

The Miracle - - Health - By By Si­mon Lit­tle

A Wal­mart Su­per­centre in Surrey that was closed due to con­cerns about a pos­si­ble Le­gion­naires’ dis­ease out­break has re­opened to the pub­lic. The Wal­mart is ad­ja­cent to the Guild­ford Town Cen­tre Mall, where tests con­firmed the pres­ence of Le­gionella bac­te­ria in the build­ing’s cool­ing tow­ers on Fri­day. The mall re­mained open, but the big box store chose to close “out of an abun­dance of cau­tion,” said Wal­mart Canada di­rec­tor of cor­po­rate af­fairs Anika Ma­lik in an email. “The safety of our as­so­ci­ates and cus­tomers is our top pri­or­ity,” said Ma­lik in an email. “We vol­un­tar­ily de­cided to tem­po­rar­ily close our store while tak­ing steps to deep clean and san­i­tize our cool­ing tow­ers which sup­port our re­frig­er­a­tion units.” Ma­lik said that the store’s re­frig­er­a­tion units re­main pow­ered off, and will re­main so un­til Fraser Health can con­duct an in­spec­tion. She added that the store won’t be able to sell any re­frig­er­ated or frozen food un­til that in­spec­tion is com­plete and the cool­ing sys­tem is re­booted. “Pub­lic Health has con­firmed that we are able to open the store with­out of­fer­ing re­frig­er­ated or frozen prod­ucts at this time,” said Ma­lik. Fraser Health has con­firmed seven cases of Le­gion­naires’ dis­ease in Surrey, all clus­tered in the Guild­ford neigh­bour­hood. The author­ity said Satur­day that there have been no new cases of Le­gion­naires’ de­tected. How­ever, the dis­ease can take up to 10 days for symp­toms — in­clud­ing cough, fa­tigue, fever, ab­dom­i­nal pain and di­ar­rhea — to show up. Fraser Health has said that any­one show­ing these symp­toms should visit a doctor, and should also let them know if they’ve been in the Guild­ford area in the last week and a half. It added that both the Guild­ford Mall and Wal­mart had co­op­er­ated with in­ves­ti­ga­tors and taken ap­pro­pri­ate ac­tion, and that the pub­lic should feel safe vis­it­ing them. Le­gion­naires’ dis­ease is caused by a bac­te­ria known as Le­gionella, which is com­monly found in the nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ment, in­clud­ing fresh­wa­ter, ground­wa­ter and soil. It can, in ex­treme cases, be fa­tal. Source: glob­al­ Guild­ford Wal­mart re­opens af­ter Le­gion­naires’ dis­ease scare Fraser Health con­firmed seven cases of Le­gion­naires’ dis­ease in pa­tients in the Guild­ford area in the past two weeks By: NICK EAGLAND Up­dated: Septem­ber 8, 2018 A Surrey Wal­mart re­opened Satur­day af­ter clos­ing Fri­day be­cause wa­ter-cool­ing tow­ers at Guild­ford Town Cen­tre tested pos­i­tive for the bac­te­ria that causes le­gion­naires’ dis­ease. Fraser Health con­firmed seven cases of le­gion­naires’ dis­ease in pa­tients who were in the Guild­ford area in the past two weeks. Of­fi­cials spoke to them and their fam­ily mem­bers about pos­si­ble sources of ex­po­sure, said Dr. Aamir Bhar­mal, a med­i­cal health of­fi­cer with the author­ity. Af­ter con­firm­ing that some of the pa­tients had vis­ited the Wal­mart at Guild­ford Town Cen­tre, Fraser Health staff tested cool­ing tow­ers, wa­ter fea­tures and dec­o­ra­tive foun­tains in­side the mall, where wa­ter is aerosolized, Bhar­mal said. The bac­te­ria is car­ried in droplets of wa­ter. The Guild­ford Wal­mart Su­per­centre closed on Fri­day “out of an abun­dance of cau­tion,” af­ter be­ing con­tacted by Fraser Health about the in­ves­ti­ga­tion, said Anika Ma­lik, di­rec­tor of cor­po­rate af­fairs for Wal­mart Canada. On Satur­day, Ma­lik said while the busi­ness was shut they cleaned and san­i­tized the cool­ing tow­ers and re­frig­er­a­tion units. She said the re­frig­er­a­tion units re­main off so the store can­not sell cold or frozen prod­ucts un­til the cool­ers are turned back on, how­ever the store is open for busi­ness. “Pub­lic Health has con­firmed that we are able to open the store with­out of­fer­ing re­frig­er­ated or frozen prod­ucts at this time. We look for­ward to wel­com­ing our as­so­ci­ates and cus­tomers to the store,” she said, in an email. The cool­ers will not be turned back on un­til a health in­spec­tion takes place. Cool­ing tow­ers in­side the mall and the Wal­mart tested pos­i­tive for le­gionella bac­te­ria, but are not defini­tively what made the pa­tients get sick, so the health author­ity is con­tin­u­ing to in­ves­ti­gate, in­spect and re­sam­ple, Bhar­mal said. Fraser Health is also await­ing test re­sults to de­ter­mine whether all seven pa­tients got sick from the same source. “Our ad­vice at this point isn’t to tell peo­ple to stay away from the mall, at all,” he said. “They are tak­ing a lot of proac­tive mea­sures to clean out the cool­ing tow­ers.” Bhar­mal said le­gionella is “not en­tirely un­ex­pected” in­side cool­ing tow­ers be­cause it is found nat­u­rally in soil, ground­wa­ter and fresh­wa­ter. But “even though it’s not ex­pected, it’s not de­sir­able,” he added. He said build­ing wa­ter sys­tems need to be pe­ri­od­i­cally closed down for thor­ough clean­ing. Sébastien Théberge, a spokesman for Ivan­hoe Cam­bridge Inc., which owns Guild­ford Town Cen­tre, said in an emailed state­ment that the health and safety of the mall’s cus­tomers and em­ploy­ees is top pri­or­ity, and his firm has fully com­plied with all re­quests from Fraser Health. “Through­out the process, we have been ad­vised there was no pub­lic health con­cern within the shop­ping cen­tre,” Théberge said. “The shop­ping cen­tre re­mains open for busi­ness.” Doug Stra­chan, spokesman for the Surrey school district, said the district is aware of the le­gion­naire’s cases and has been in con­tact with Fraser Health. “If there are any spe­cial ac­tions that we need to take, they’ll let us know,” he said. “So far, there’s noth­ing.” “Pa­tients can get le­gion­naires’ dis­ease when they breathe in aerosolized wa­ter droplets con­tain­ing le­gionella,” Fraser Health said in a state­ment. “Most healthy peo­ple do not get le­gion­naires’ dis­ease from be­ing ex­posed to le­gionella. How­ever, those at higher risk for de­vel­op­ing pneu­mo­nia are the el­derly, smok­ers, peo­ple with chronic lung con­di­tions and the im­muno-com­pro­mised.” Fraser Health rec­om­mends against test­ing for peo­ple who don’t have symp­toms — even if they’ve been in the Guild­ford area — but said test­ing should be con­sid­ered for peo­ple who have pneu­mo­nia-like symp­toms, such as cough­ing, fever, short­ness of breath or fa­tigue, and were in the Guild­ford area within 19 days of the symp­toms ap­pear­ing.

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