Health dept. investigating new case of Legionnaire’s

FLINT — The Genesee County Health Department (GCHD) is investigating the fourth reported case of Legionnaires’ disease in Genesee County for 2016. This most recent case is likely healthcare-acquired, and we are investigating to try to determine the source of infection. All the Legionnaires’ disease patients are recovering.

We want to remind residents that Legionnaires’ disease is most common during the warm weather season.

Legionnaires’ disease is a respiratory infection caused by Legionella bacteria. These bacteria can also cause a milder illness called Pontiac fever. We want everyone to be aware of the signs and symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease which 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.

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.

Filtering water does not remove Legionella bacteria. People who are at most risk of developing Legionnaires’ disease are those who are older, smokers/ former smokers, have a weakened immune system, or those who have other underlying or chronic health conditions. For those who are at an increased risk that live in the City of Flint, GCHD suggests the continued use of bottled water.

Proper maintenance and disinfection of building water systems, hot water tanks, cooling towers, whirlpool spas, and decorative fountains are the most effective measures to prevent outbreaks.

GCHD has worked closely with the local medical centers to provide information about Legionella and clinical guidance about Legionnaires’ disease. A Legionnaires’ disease fact sheet is posted on the GCHD website at GCHD continues to conduct surveillance for Legionnaires’ disease cases. — G.G.

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