By NewsDesk @infectiousdiseasenews
In a follow-up on the Legionella outbreak linked to the NC Mountain State Fair, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services now reports 124 cases of Legionnaires’ disease and Pontiac fever (a milder form of infection) had been reported in people who attended or worked at the fair.
According to preliminary finding from the investigation:
People who were diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease were much more likely to have visited the Davis Event Center while at the fair and much more likely to report having walked by the hot tub displays compared to people who did not get sick. The Davis Event Center is a large building that housed many vendor displays during the fair, including hot tubs. People who were diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease were also much more likely to have visited during the latter half of the fair compared to people who did not get sick.
Health officials are also reporting early results from laboratory testing of environmental samples. To date, testing has identified Legionella bacteria in one water sample taken from the Davis Event Center; results are still pending from other samples taken as part of this investigation.
“Finding Legionella in one water sample is an important piece of the puzzle, but it does not tell us how so many people were exposed at this event,” said Dr. Zack Moore, State Epidemiologist. “To get Legionnaires’ disease or Pontiac fever, you have to breathe in Legionella in aerosolized water, meaning small droplets like mists or vapors.”
Taken together, these early findings suggest that low levels of Legionella present were able to grow in hot tubs or possibly some other source in the Davis Event Center leading to exposure through breathing in aerosolized water that contained the bacteria; however, this is an ongoing investigation.