A fourth person in Plattsburgh, NY has been hospitalized due to infection with the Legionella bacteria in recent weeks, according to a local media account. One week ago, the Clinton County Health Department reported that three Plattsburgh residents having been hospitalized with pneumonia infections caused by Legionella bacteria.


The Press-Republican reported the first three patients all live in the same apartment complex in the west end of the City of Plattsburgh; however, it is unclear if the fourth patient lives in the same place.

The investigation into the source of the bacterium is ongoing.

Legionnaires’ disease is a respiratory infection caused by Legionella bacteria. These bacteria can also cause a milder illness called Pontiac fever. The signs and symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease include fever, cough, shortness of breath, muscle aches, pneumonia, and sometimes diarrhea and abdominal pain. Pontiac fever has similar symptoms but does not progress to pneumonia. Antibiotics are highly effective against Legionella bacteria.

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

Legionella bacteria are commonly found in the environment (rivers, lakes, streams). It is a waterborne disease, usually spread by man-made water supplies that aerosolize water, such as showers, hot water tanks, cooling towers, whirlpool spas, and decorative fountains. People can get Legionnaires’ disease when they breathe in a mist containing the bacteria. People may also be exposed to Legionella bacteria from water that “goes down the wrong pipe” (aspiration). In general, the bacteria are not spread from one person to another.

People who are at most risk of developing Legionnaires’ disease are those who are older, smokers/former smokers, have a weakened immune system, and those who have other underlying or chronic health conditions.