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The Lake County General Health District (LCGHD) is working with the Ohio Department of Health and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration on a public health investigation involving Legionnaires’ disease in Lake County.

Image/CDC

Image/CDC

Between July 1, 2016 and October 31, 2016, there have been 12 confirmed Legionella cases, including one death.

The outbreak has been linked to  Consolidated Precision Products (CPP), 34000 Lakeland Blvd., Eastlake, Ohio.

CPP has been cooperative in this investigation and has fully complied with all requests. The confirmed Legionella death was not a CPP employee. Test results indicate that any potential risk from this site has been eliminated at this time.

Ron H. Graham, Health Commissioner stated, “It’s important to know that we will never really know the true source of the bacteria, we do know that one cooling towers was positive.”   Other possible sources of infection include hot tubs, hot water tanks, large plumbing systems and decorative fountains.

Legionnaires’ disease is caused by a bacterium called Legionella. In general, Legionnaires’ disease is not spread from one person to another; however, person-to-person spread may be possible in very rare cases. Most people exposed to the bacteria do not become ill. Legionella bacteria can make people sick when they breathe it in through contaminated mist or vapor (small droplets of water in the air). This can happen when you drink, shower or bathe in contaminated water. About 5,000 new Legionnaires’ disease are reported each year. Lake County’s current infection rate is 3.05 cases per 100,000 residents.

Legionella bacteria grow best in warm water like the kind found in hot tubs, cooling towers, hot water tanks, large plumbing systems and decorative fountains. They do not seem to grow in car or window air conditioners. Legionella is found naturally in fresh water environments, like lakes and streams, but can become a health concern in human-made water systems. Keeping Legionella out of water systems in buildings is key to preventing infection.

Legionnaires’ disease can have symptoms like many other types of pneumonia and can be difficult to diagnose at first. Signs of Legionnaires’ disease include: Cough, shortness of breath, high fever, muscle aches and headache.

Most healthy people do not get sick from being exposed to Legionella bacteria. Groups at higher risk for infection include.

  • People 50 years or older
  • Current or former smokers
  • People with a chronic lung disease (like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or emphysema)
  • People with a weak immune system from diseases like cancer, diabetes, or kidney failure
  • People who take drugs that suppress (weaken) the immune system (like after a transplant operation or chemotherapy)

These symptoms usually begin two to 14 days after being exposed to the Legionella bacteria. If someone believes that they were exposed to Legionella and have these symptoms, they should consult with their doctor. Legionnaires’ disease requires treatment with antibiotics and may require hospitalization.

LISTEN: Legionnaires’ disease: An interview with Dr. Mark Edwards and Sarah Ferrari

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