1 dead and more than 100 ill in North Carolina Legionnaires outbreak

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An outbreak of Legionnaires


1 dead and more than 100 ill in Legionnaires’ disease outbreak in North Carolina linked to a state fair

  • 109 people have fallen ill and 1 person has died in an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease in North Carolina
  • Legionnaires’ is a severe form of pneumonia caused by legionella bacteria
  • Seven cases of Pontiac Fever, which is milder but caused by the same bacteria, have also been identified 
  • Health officials believe it is linked to the NC Mountain State Fair that ran between September 6 and 15

One person has died and 109 people have fallen ill in an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease in North Carolina.

As of October 1, 75 people had been hospitalized, according to a release from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).

Legionnaires’ is a severe form of pneumonia caused by inhaling water droplets containing legionella bacteria and, when left untreated, can cause fatal neurological complications. 

Health officials are not sure where the outbreak originated, but many of those who fell ill say they attended the NC Mountain State Fair between September 6 and 15.  

An outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease linked to the North Carolina Mountain State Fair last month has sickened 109 people and left one dead. Pictured: Legionella bacteria 

State officials are encouraging anyone attended the fair last month and are experiencing symptoms to see a doctor.

The sickened patients range between ages 24 and 90 with a median age of 61, according to the DHHS.

Seven cases of Pontiac Fever, a milder illness than Legionnaires’ disease, but caused by the same bacteria, have also been identified.

Unlike other illnesses, which are transmitted through person-to-person contact, those with Legionnaires’ disease fall sick by inhaling small droplets of water with legionella bacteria. 

The bacteria can multiply in places such as hot tubs, water tanks and large plumbing systems.

Symptoms develop between two and 14 days after inhaling legionella bacteria. The disease typically begins with a headache, chills, high fever, and muscle pain.  

Because the Mountain State Fair ran from September 6 to September 15, anyone sickened would likely have already developed symptoms. 

On the second or third day, symptoms progress to coughing, chest pain, trouble breathing, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

Between 10,000 and 18,000 Americans are infected each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Most people recover with antibiotics, but those with weakened immune systems or who have chronic lung diseases can form neurological complications that can be fatal. 

However, one in 10 people with the disease die,. 

There has been an increase in Legionnaires’ cases in recent years, by about 550 percent since 200, the CDC says. 

The Asheville Citizen Times reports that this is due to a mix of greater awareness, an aging population and climate change.



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