LANSING, Mich. — The state of Michigan is experiencing an increase in legionellosis cases.
Legionellosis is a respiratory infection cased by Legionella bacteria. Legionnaires' disease is an infection with symptoms that include fever, cough and pneumonia.
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) is working with local health departments across the state to investigate cases of legionellosis this summer.
So far in 2019, there have been 140 confirmed cases of legionellosis reported in 38 counties compared to 135 cases during the same time frame in 2018.
Confirmed cases include 19 in Oakland County, 16 in Wayne County, 13 in Macomb County, 11 in Genesee County and 10 cases each in the City of Detroit.
This increase correlates with national increases in legionellosos, which is most common in the summer and early fall when warming, stagnant waters create the best environment for bacterial growth in water systems.
“With warmer days now here, we want everyone to be aware of Legionnaire’s disease, especially if they may be at higher risk for illness,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, MDHHS chief medical executive and chief deputy director for health. “We also want all healthcare providers to remain vigilant and test and treat appropriately.”
The Legionella bacteria is found in fresh water lakes and streams but can also be found in man-made water systems.
Transmission of the bacteria to people occurs when mist or vapor containing the bacteria is inhaled.
Risk factors of exposure include:
• Recent travel with an overnight stay.
• Recent stay in a healthcare facility.
• Exposure to hot tubs.
• Exposure to settings where the plumbing has had recent repairs or maintenance work.
Individuals at higher risk of getting infected are:
• People over age 50.
• Current or former smokers.
• People with chronic lung disease.
• People with weakened immune systems from diseases, such as cancer, diabetes or liver or kidney failure.
• People who take immunosuppressant drugs.
More information on legionella and the Legionnaires' disease can be found here.
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