Oakland County Health Division raises awareness about Legionnaires' disease

Oakland County Health Division is raising awareness about Legionnaires' disease following a statewide increase of confirmed cases. In Oakland County, there have been 42 confirmed cases this year and 46 cases in 2017.

"Legionnaires' disease can be very serious." said Dr. Russell Faust, medical director for Oakland County Health Division. "Individuals that smoke or have chronic respiratory ailments are at higher risk. Talk to your healthcare provider for prompt diagnosis and treatment if you think you were exposed."

Legionnaires' disease is a respiratory infection caused by breathing mist or vapors from water containing Legionella bacteria. Most healthy people exposed to Legionella don't get sick. People at higher risk of getting sick are:

- Current or former smokers.
- Age 50 years and over.
- Those with chronic lung disease, such as emphysema or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
- Those with a weakened immune system from diseases like cancer, diabetes, or kidney failure.

Common sources of exposure to Legionella bacteria are places where warm water can be held for long periods of time, such as cooling towers, whirlpool spas and hot tubs, hot water tanks, decorative fountains, showerheads, and sink faucets. Legionnaires' disease is most common in the summer and early fall, when warm, stagnant water presents the best environment for bacterial growth in water systems.

Generally, people do not spread Legionnaires' disease to other people. Symptoms typically develop two to 14 days after exposure, and can include cough, shortness of breath, fever, muscle aches, and headaches. With the recent increase in confirmed cases, healthcare providers have prioritized testing and treatment efforts. Call your healthcare provider if you may have been exposed to Legionella bacteria or experience any symptoms.

For additional information, visit www.oakgov.com/health. Nurse on Call is available to answer questions at 800-848-5533 or noc@oakgov.com, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. For up-to-date public health information, follow @publichealthOC on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter.

Published: Tue, Sep 11, 2018