Since the middle of July, an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease has been causing one death and almost a dozen hospitalizations in California’s wine region. On Wednesday, public health officials said that they had located one likely source of the bacteria that causes the sickness.
According to a statement released by Napa County, a water sample taken from a cooling tower at the Embassy Suites Napa Valley contained high levels of the bacteria Legionella. However, none of the people who became ill had visited or stayed at the hotel during the time they were unwell.
According to the statement, “the cooling tower has since been taken offline,” which eliminates or significantly reduces any “ongoing risk” to public health.
County and state public health investigators have been working with hotel employees to “remediate the source of exposure,” but “we must continue to investigate other cooling towers and water sources in the outbreak area, as it is common to find multiple sources,” the county’s health officer said in a statement.
Legionnaires’ disease is a type of pneumonia that is caused by a bacteria that grows in warm water. It got its name from the first place it was found, an American Legion convention in Philadelphia in 1976.
Legionnaires’ disease can happen when people breathe in water vapour that has bacteria in it.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, outbreaks tend to happen in places with complicated water systems, such as hotels and resorts, long-term care facilities, hospitals, and cruise ships. “Shower water, hot tubs, decorative fountains, and cooling towers are the most likely places to get sick.”
The disease isn’t spreadable and can be treated with antibiotics, but it can be dangerous for some people, like those who already have health problems. There are aches in the muscles, a fever, and chills.
Since July 11, the disease has sent 12 people to the hospital in Napa County. The county said that three people are still in the hospital and that one person died.
The county said that the person was over 50 and had “risk factors for severe disease.”
Every year, about 10,000 cases of Legionnaires’ disease were reported in the United States. However, the CDC says that the disease is likely underdiagnosed, so the real number may be much higher.
The disease usually lasts between two and five days. According to the World Health Organization, it can range from a mild cough to pneumonia that kills “very quickly.” Some of the problems that can come from the disease are trouble breathing, shock, and sudden kidney failure.
“This is a reminder that the bacteria that cause Legionnaires’ disease are common in nature and can be found in man-made water systems,” Relucio said. “This means that owners and managers of water systems that can make aerosols need to take steps to stop Legionella from growing and spreading in water systems.”