State fairs are a mixed bag at the best of times. But for the hundreds of people who attended the state fair in North Carolina last September, it was a nightmare. Public health officials have tracked the outbreak of Legionnaires' illness at the fair, the most likely source of contamination being contaminated hot tubs.
The fair was held from 6 to 1
When Legionella bacteria cause a serious illness, a lung infection or pneumonia known as Legionnaires' disease. Even with antibiotic treatment, this form of the disease can lead to pulmonary insufficiency, and approximately 10 percent of people who are diagnosed with it finally die. But more often, these infections eventually lead to a lighter, flu-like illness called Pontiac fever. Unfortunately, most cases of this outbreak (over 90 percent) are legionnaires. So far, eighty-one people have been hospitalized and at least one person has died.
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Legionella thrives in fresh water. But natural environmental sources usually don't expose us to enough bacteria to get sick. Therefore, what causes these outbreaks are water sources where bacteria are highly concentrated and then easily dispersed through the air. Faulty water systems, contaminated air conditioners and so, hot tubs are the usual culprits of legionnaires.
Health officials said Thursday that many victims had visited or worked near the event center, and were much more likely to walk through the hot tub screen. Environmental testing revealed the bacteria in the water sample at that location. But there are still questions about how the outbreak has spread.
"Finding legionella in one water sample is an important part of the puzzle, but it does not say how many people were exposed to this event," said Zack Moore, an epidemiologist at the Health & # 39; I said in a statement issued Thursday: "To get Legionnaires' disease or Pontiac fever, you need to breathe Legionella into aerosolized water, which means tiny droplets like fogs or fumes."
Hot tubs are now the head suspect but still possible there could have been other sources of contaminated aerosolized It is also possible that the number of illnesses will continue to increase as more people visit the fair and become ill, but the present danger seems to have passed since health officials have not identified any potential sources of contamination since the end of the fair.
In a statement by the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services on Thursday, they announced that the rent of the event center would be suspended while they "review and leave." there are memory effects. plans for construction. "
Nationally reported cases of Legionnaires and Pontiac fever have increased dramatically over time. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, five times more cases (more than 7,000) were reported in 2017 than in 2000. But it is unclear how far this attack can be traced to "real" factors, such as more people being exposed to bacteria, or bacteria becoming more virulent, unlike doctors and medical departments who simply improve the search for cases. As of late, the legionnaires' outbreak crushed residents of Flint, Michigan, in 2014 and 2015 and killed girls after an unintended change in water supply. 5300 cases of infection with Legionella this year are just below the trend by 2018.