One person has died and 11 others were hospitalized due to a Legionnaires’ disease outbreak in Napa County, California, according to a statementAugust 3rd, the county released this statement. The 12 people—all Napa County residents—were diagnosed since July 11, and three are still hospitalized, the statement said.
Legionnaires’ disease is a type of pneumonia (lung infection) caused by bacteria called LegionellaAccording to the statement, bacteria grows in warm water. People can become sick from breathing in droplets of contaminated water or swallowing contaminated water. LegionellaAccording to the Centers for Disease and PreventionCDC). Legionella can grow and spread in man-made water systems such as sink faucets, showerheads, decorative water fountains, hot tubs, hot water tanks or heaters, plumbing systems, and cooling towers, which are structures that are part of a building’s cooling system that contain water and a fan, per the CDC.
Napa County officials tested man-made water sources and found “high levels of Legionella bacteria” in a sample from the cooling tower at Embassy Suites Napa Valley, the statement said. None of the 12 residents diagnosed with Legionnaires’ had stayed in or visited the hotel. A Napa County health official said in the statement that during a Legionnaires’ outbreak it’s common to find more than one sore of LegionellaOfficials are still looking for other sources of contaminated water.
The CDC says that Legionnaires’ is not generally spread person-to-person—meaning you’d most likely have to ingest or swallow droplets of the contaminated water to get sick—but acknowledges that this may be possible. The person who died from the current outbreak in Napa County was over 50 years old and had “high risk factors for severe disease,” per the statement. According to the CDC: People at greater risk include ex- or current smokers, those with chronic lung disease, people who have weak immune systems, people living with cancer, and people over 50.
The U.S. sees an estimated 25,000 Legionnaires’ cases each year, per the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOHThe disease can be sporadic or widespread. Symptoms of Legionnaires’ include shortness of breath, cough, fever, headaches, and muscle aches; it has also been associated with nausea, diarrhea, and confusion, per the CDC, which notes that Legionnaires’ symptoms usually occur within two to 14 days of exposure to Legionella. These signs may take longer to appear.
If you develop the symptoms associated with Legionnaires’, you should see a doctor immediately, per the CDC. Multiple tests are possible to confirm a diagnosis. A chest Xray can confirm the diagnosis of pneumonia. Doctors can then take a urine or phlegm test to determine if the pneumonia was caused by. Legionella bacteria. (It is also worth noting: LegionellaPontiac fever is a milder form of bacteria that can be caused by bacteria. This can be diagnosed using similar tests. The CDC says that if you seek medical treatment for Legionnaires’ symptoms, you should let your provider know if you believe you have been exposed to LegionellaDuring the last two weeks, stayed in hospitals or spent nights away from their home.
Legionnaires’ can be treated with antibiotics, but the recovery period can last for a few weeks following illness, per the National Health Service (NHS(UK) Treatment is successful for most people with the condition—though hospitalization may be required in severe cases.