One person has died of Legionnaires’ disease and 13 more cases have been confirmed among people who attended a state fair this month in North Carolina, a state health department official said late Wednesday.
The infected people reportedly went to the Mountain State Fair in Fletcher between September 6 and 15, according to North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services spokeswoman Kelly Haight Connor and a news release.
Nine confirmed cases, including one fatality, were reported in Buncombe County, and four confirmed cases were reported in Henderson County, spokeswoman Kim Horton of the Henderson County Department of Public Health told CNN on Wednesday. It was unclear where the 14th case was reported.
“As a precaution, we are recommending that anyone who went to the fair and has symptoms of pneumonia, like cough, fever or shortness of breath, see a doctor right away and talk with them about Legionnaires’ disease,” state epidemiologist Dr. Zack Moore said in the statement.
The state’s “Communicable Disease Branch is working with Mountain State Fair organizers to investigate a possible connection of these cases with attendance at the fair earlier this month,” the two counties’ health departments said in news releases.
Atlanta outbreak killed 1
Legionnaires’ disease is a lung infection contracted when people breathe in the Legionella bacteria through a mist or by accidentally getting water into their lungs that contains the bacteria.
The disease is serious but can be treated with antibiotics, the department said. About 1 in 10 people who get sick from Legionnaires’ disease die, a recent government report found.
Legionella bacteria are found naturally in the environment but can become a health concern when they “spread in human-made water systems like hot water tanks, cooling towers of air conditioning systems, decorative fountains and hot tubs or spas that are not properly maintained,” the North Carolina health department said.
At least one person died of Legionnaires’ disease during a recent outbreak linked to an Atlanta hotel.
About 7,500 US cases of Legionnaires’ disease were reported to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2017, but that’s likely an underestimate because the illness is underdiagnosed, according to the CDC. The reported rate of people who get Legionnaires’ disease has risen by 550% since 2000.