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One dead after outbreak of Legionnaires' disease in Ohio

Posted: 2:46 PM, Nov 16, 2016
Updated: 2016-11-17 12:19:42-05

One person is dead after an outbreak of Legionnaires' disease in Lake County, Ohio. There are a total of 12 confirmed cases.

The Lake County General Health District is working with the Ohio Department of Health and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to investigate the cases. According to the Lake County Health Commissioner, three of the sick people worked in companies located next to each other in Eastlake. 

The investigation zeroed in on water cooling towers of Consolidated Precision Products, and they are cooperating fully in the investigation.

Sample results confirmed the presence of Legionella bacteria in the cooling towers at Consolidated Precision Products, and mist or vapor emitted from contaminated water cooling towers could have contained Legionella bacteria and traveled through the air to infect people who breathe in the bacteria.

Consolidated Precision Products issued a statement: 

Consolidated Precision Products’ independent test results recently confirmed the presence of elevated levels of the Legionella bacteria in one of the cooling towers at our Eastlake, OH facility.  After these tests were taken, the facility’s production and cooling water systems, including the cooling towers, were cleaned and disinfected by an experienced industrial water treatment company in accordance with recommendations and protocols from the Ohio Department of Health.  The cleaning and disinfecting activities that we conducted are the recommended course of action to remedy Legionella bacteria growth in cooling towers.  No Legionella bacteria was detected in post-cleaning test results.  We have kept our employees informed of the activities at the facility and are fully cooperating with the appropriate federal, state and local health agencies.

Legionella bacteria infects people who breathe in mist or vapor from contaminated water and is not spread from person-to-person.

While most people who are exposed to Legionella bacteria do not become ill, some can get sick with Legionnaires' disease which is a severe form of pneumonia. The bacteria can also cause a milder infection called Potomac fever which is characterized by flu-like symptoms. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that between 8,000 and 18,000 people are hospitalized with Legionnaries' disease on the U.S. every year.