Legionnaires disease is on the rise, particularly in the southern states, with more reports coming in than before. The potentially fatal bacteria spread on surfaces and through the air, making it hard to control once an area has become contaminated.
A display of hot tubs at the North Carolina Mountain State Fair is being blamed for well over 100 cases of Legionnaires’ disease that began popping up shortly after the event. In an update to a bulletin issued by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, the startling statistics are laid bare.
Thus far, a total of 134 confirmed cases have been tallied. All of the affected individuals attended the fair and presumably walked close enough to the hot tub display to breath in tiny droplets of water that had become airborne. 88 of the cases included hospitalization and two individuals have died as a result of their infections.
According to Fox News, Legionnaires’ disease is a severe form of pneumonia. People contract the disease when inhaling Legionella bacteria; it’s not spread via person-to-person contact. Legionella pneumophila, a bacterium, is usually the cause of the illness, per the Mayo Clinic. It can be found in soil and water, but more commonly causes infection when it multiplies in water systems (e.g., hot tubs and air conditioners).
The disease is treatable with antibiotics and those who are sickened typically recover in full. Symptoms often include fever, chills, cough, and shortness of breath.
The news comes after health officials in Georgia this past August responded to a massive Legionnaires’ outbreak linked to a hotel in Atlanta. At the time, a state health official told Fox News that the Legionella outbreak was the largest ever recorded in Georgia.
You may expect to get sick from the food of a traveling fair but just breathing near a few steamy hot tubs? That certainly is a recipe for disaster.