Hot tubs on display at the North Carolina Mountain State Fair may be the source of a Legionnaires’ disease outbreak that has sickened 128 people, killing one of them, according to state health officials. The total number of illnesses reported so far includes 120 cases of Legionnaires’ disease, a severe form of pneumonia, and eight cases of Pontiac Fever, a less severe form of the lung infection. Eighty-one people have been hospitalized.
Legionnaires’ disease is transmitted when water mist contaminated with Legionella bacteria is inhaled. Symptoms include fever, cough, chills, headache, muscle aches, and shortness of breath. Anyone who attended the fair and is experiencing these symptoms should see a doctor right away.
Last week, 25 cases had been reported in association with attendance at the fair which took place September 6 – 15. The staggering increase in the number of reported illnesses has health officials scrambling to determine how so many people could have been exposed to the Legionella bacteria that cause the disease.
So far, they have determined that there is a correlation between visiting exhibits inside the Davis Events Center and developing Legionnaires’ disease. One water sample taken from the Davis Events Center has tested positive for Legionella. Results from other tests are pending.
After the fair, Health officials visited the Western North Carolina Agricultural Center on September 25 and September 27 and did not identify any significant sources of aerosolized water on the site. Bathroom sinks and toilets create very little aerosolized water, they said.
These findings suggest that low levels of Legionella were able to grow in hot tubs and or some other source in the Davis Event Center, health officials said. Rentals of the venue have been suspended while the investigation is ongoing.
The Legionnaires’ disease attorneys at Pritzker Hageman have two decades of experience representing people who have been sickened by Legionella bacteria and families who have suffered the wrongful death of a loved one. If you or a loved one are part of this outbreak, call us for a free consultation at 1(888) 377-8900 (toll-free), text 612-261-0856 or use the form below.