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MDHSS reports slight legionellosis uptick

The state health department reports a slight increase in cases of Legionnaire’s disease and Pontiac fever – a less severe respiratory illness caused by the same bacteria. 140 cases have been confirmed statewide, five more than this time last year. Health department spokesperson Lynn Sutfin says the infections are most common in summer and early fall. She says legionella bacteria thrive in warm, stagnant water…especially in man-made sources.

“We’re talking potable water systems, cooling towers, whirlpool spas, decorative fountains. Those are some very common environments where that bacteria will grow.”

Sutfin says most people who are exposed to the bacteria do not become infected. Those who do are typically people over 50, current or former smokers, and people with chronic lung disease.