While the Legionnaires’ disease outbreak in the South Bronx has been declared over by New York City officials a week ago, outbreaks of the bacterial respiratory disease has popped up in other areas across the country.
In a follow-up to the outbreak at the Illinois Veterans’ Home – Quincy, state health officials are now reporting two deaths in residents at the Quincy facility. The case count has also risen from eight to 23, according to the Illinois Department of Health.
Across the country, The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, along with the Marin County Public Health Department and California Correctional Health Care Services, are investigating the source of a confirmed case of Legionnaires’ disease at San Quentin State Prison.
On Aug. 26, an inmate was transported to an outside hospital where he was diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease and is being treated. He is currently in stable condition. There are two other inmates who have been hospitalized after displaying symptoms but have not officially been diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease.
In addition, approximately 30 inmates are under observation for pneumonia-like symptoms but have not yet been diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease. All unconfirmed cases are being treated at San Quentin’s on-site medical unit.
Legionellosis is a bacterial disease of the lungs caused by Legionella pneumophila. The disease can range from a mild respiratory illness to severe pneumonia and death. The most common form of legionellosis is known as “Legionnaires’ disease,” named after an outbreak in 1976 when many people who attended an American Legion conference in Philadelphia became ill.
Most people contract the disease by inhaling mist or vapor from a water source contaminated with the bacteria. The disease is not contracted by drinking contaminated water, and person-to-person spread of legionellosis does not occur.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it is estimated that between 8,000 and 18,000 people are hospitalized with legionellosis in the United States each year.
Robert Herriman is a microbiologist and the Editor-in-Chief of Outbreak News Today