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Last Updated: Friday, 7 October 2005, 05:26 GMT 06:26 UK
Canada mystery illness identified
Seven Oaks Home for the Aged in Toronto, Canada
No visitors have been allowed at Seven Oaks Home
A mystery illness that killed 16 elderly people in a nursing home in a Canadian city has been identified as Legionnaires' disease.

Toronto's medical officer said most cases of the disease, contracted by breathing in contaminated droplets of water, can be treated with antibiotics.

He said those who died had other health problems which put them more at risk.

Tests had ruled out the acute respiratory syndrome Sars, avian flu and influenza.

Dozens ill

Though officials had earlier ruled out Legionnaires' disease based on preliminary tests, they said cultures taken from autopsies, which took several days to grow, proved positive.

"We'll continue to look for other possibilities, but we feel pretty confident... we're dealing with Legionnaires' disease," said Dr Donald Low, chief microbiologist at Mount Sinai Hospital.

More than 80 people have suffered symptoms of the disease since the outbreak began last week at the Seven Oaks Home for the Aged in Toronto's district of Scarborough.

The authorities were also monitoring 170 people connected to the nursing home.

Correspondents say that anxiety about the outbreak had been exacerbated by fears of Sars, which claimed more than 40 lives in Toronto in 2003.

Legionnaires' disease
08 Feb 03 |  Medical notes

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