The number of Legionnaires’ disease cases reported annually in the U.S. hit a record high in 2018, according to data just released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Last year, 9,933 cases of the severe form of pneumonia were reported, up from 7,458 in 2017 and 6,141 in 2016 and almost nine times the 1,127 cases reported in 2000.
Health officials who have been tracking the trend aren’t sure if the increase in Legionnaires’ disease cases is due to better reporting, or an increase in the over 50 segment of the population that is susceptible to this severe form of pneumonia.
Legionnaires’ disease is transmitted when water vapor contaminated with Legionella bacteria is inhaled. It is not spread through person-to-person contact. Legionella grows best in warm, stagnant water especially the complex plumbing systems of large buildings.
Legionnaires disease got its name from a 1976 outbreak that sickened 200 attendees of an American Legion convention at a Philadelphia hotel. Twenty-nine people died. Since 1976, when a total of 234 cases were reported, the CDC has been tracking the total number of cases reported annually. Typical settings for outbreaks of these illnesses were hotels, hospitals, and senior living communities.
But in 2019, Legionnaires’ disease outbreaks have cropped up – fairgrounds.
A Legionnaires’ disease outbreak at the North Carolina Mountain State Fair held September 6-15, 2019 at the Western North Carolina Agricultural Center in Fletcher, NC sickened 141 people killing four of them. Most of the illnesses were reported among fairgoers who had some exposure to a display of hot tubs inside the Davis Event Center.
The Legionnaires’ disease attorneys at Pritzker Hageman filed the first lawsuit in connection with that outbreak. Fred Pritzker, founder of the firm which is representing multiple clients sickened after attending the event, told the Charlotte Observer that these outbreaks are preventable with good water management programs.
Just weeks after the North Carolina Mountain State Fair, a Legionnaires’ disease outbreak at the East Texas State Fair in Tyler, TX was reported. The outbreak includes at least seven confirmed and five probable cases associated with attending the fair, which took place September 20 – September 29, 2019. And additional cases may not yet be reported.
Contact the Pritzker Hageman Legionnaires’ Team
Phone: 1-888-377-8900 | Text: 1-612-261-0856