a officials said Wednesday.The outbreak in California’s wine country has caused one death and nearly a dozen hospitalizations since mid-July, and public health officials have found a possible source of the bacteria that causes the disease,
Water samples taken from a cooling tower in the Embassy Suites Napa Valley were found to contain high levels of Legionella bacteria, according to a Napa County statement, although none of those who became ill had visited or stayed at the hotel.
“The cooling tower has since been taken offline, minimizing any ongoing risks to public health,” the statement said.
County and state public health investigators are working with hotel staff to “fix the source of the risk,” but “we must continue to investigate other cooling towers and water sources in the outbreak area, as more than one Finding the source is common,” County Health Officer Dr. Karen Relucio said in the statement.
Legionnaires’ disease is a type of pneumonia caused by bacteria that grow in hot water. It was named for the outbreak where it was first identified at the 1976 US Army Convention in Philadelphia.
People can get Legionnaires’ disease by breathing in water vapor containing the bacteria.
According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Outbreaks are typically associated with buildings or structures that contain complex water systems, such as hotels and resorts, long-term care facilities, hospitals, and cruise ships.” “The most likely sources of infection include water used for showers, hot tubs, decorative fountains and cooling towers.”
The disease is not contagious, and can be treated with antibiotics, but can be dangerous for some people, such as those with pre-existing conditions. Symptoms include muscle aches, fever, and chills.
The county said a dozen residents of Napa County have been hospitalized with the disease since July 11. Three are hospitalized and one person has died.
The county said the man was over the age of 50 and had a “risk factor for serious illness.”
According to the CDC, about 10,000 cases of Legionnaires’ disease are reported each year in the United States, but the disease is probably underdiagnosed and the actual annual figure may be much higher.
The disease usually lasts between two and five days and can range from a mild cough to a “rapidly fatal” case of pneumonia. World Health Organization, Complications of the disease may include respiratory failure, shock and acute renal failure.
“Although Legionnaires’ disease is a rare infection, it is a reminder that the bacteria that cause it are common in nature and can be found in man-made water systems,” Relucio said. “This means it is very important for owners and managers of water systems that can create aerosols to take steps to prevent Legionella from growing and spreading in water systems.”