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Michigan & metro Detroit seeing increase in cases of Legionnaires' disease

Posted at 2:42 PM, Jul 09, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-10 10:35:37-04

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has put out an alert as the state is seeing an increase in legionellosis cases this year.

According to the MDHHS, there have been 135 confirmed cases of the disease in 33 counties. That's compared to 107 confirmed cases during the same time period last year.

Of those cases, 24 have been confirmed in the city of Detroit, 19 in Macomb County, 16 in Oakland County, 11 in Wayne County and 10 in Genesee County.

Twenty-four of the cases have been confirmed since July 1 alone, and another 13 cases are pending.

The MDHHS said there is also a national increase in legionellosis, which is most common in summer and early fall when warming, stagnant waters present the best environment for bacterial growth in water systems.

Legionellosis is a respiratory infection caused by the Legionella bacteria, which are found in fresh water lakes in streams.

Transmission to people occurs when mist or vapor containing the bacteria is inhaled. Legionellosis does not spread person to person. Risk factors for exposure to Legionella bacteria 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.

Most healthy individuals do not become infected after exposure to Legionella. Individuals at a higher risk of getting sick include the following:

  • 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.

Individuals with any concerns about Legionnaires’ disease or exposure to the Legionella bacteria should talk to their healthcare provider.