Health Officials: Legionnaires’ Disease Spikes In Metro Detroit

DETROIT (WWJ) – There has been a concerning uptick in cases of Legionnaires’ disease in metro Detroit.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) says in June and July this year 73 cases were identified in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties. That’s a 143 percent increase from the average total cases in the same two months from 2014-to-2016.

While legionellosis is most common in the summer and early fall, officials says this increase is higher than expected for southeast Michigan for this time of year.

So far, health officials haven’t identified a common source of the respiratory infections.

Legionnaires’ disease is a caused by bacteria that thrive in warm water and infect the lungs. Legionellosis does not spread from one person to another, but can be spread through water droplets in the air.

Health officials say people can get sick if they inhale mist or vapor from contaminated water systems, hot tubs and cooling systems.

Risk factors for exposure to Legionella bacteria include:

  • Recent travel with an overnight stay outside of the home
  • Recent stay in a healthcare facility
  • Exposure to hot tubs
  • Exposure to settings where the plumbing has had recent repairs or maintenance work

Most healthy people do not become infected after exposure to Legionella, but health officials say some are at higher risk including: people over 50, current or former smokers, those with chronic lung disease, people with weakened immune systems from diseases, such as cancer, diabetes, or liver or kidney failure, and people who take immunosuppressant drugs

Symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease can include fever, cough and pneumonia.

Anyone with any concerns about Legionnaires’ disease should talk to their doctor. The MDHHS and local health departments will continue to monitor cases and provide updates to the public.

For more information on Legionella and Legionnaires’ disease, visit www.cdc.gov/legionella.

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