Six dead in Legionnaire's outbreak in Quebec

Sixty-five people have been infected and six killed after a Legionnaire's disease outbreak in Quebec that began in mid-July.

"We are very concerned by the current situation," Quebec public health chief Francois Desbiens said, iOL News reports. "It's the largest legionellosis outbreak in Canada in recent years."

An additional 16 new cases were reported on Thursday.

Health authorities said that the outbreak could have been caused by improper maintenance of cooling towers in air conditioning systems.

Legionella bacteria can grow in stagnant water found in air conditioners, which then expel the droplets leading to the spread of the disease, according to iOL News.

Though the 68 cooling towers housed in 28 buildings were inspected, cleaned and disinfected, the epidemic has not yet come to an end.

Legionnaire's can be treated with antibiotics, but can be a risk for people with weak immune systems.

The disease was discovered after 29 people died at a veterans convention in the United States in 1976. The infection causes high fever, dry cough and pneumonia, iOL News reports.

Legionellosis can take two forms. Legionnaire's disease is the more severe infection while Pontiac fever is caused by the same bacteria but results in a milder respiratory illness without pneumonia.