State News

NC report: Hot tub water caused Legionnaire's outbreak

Posted January 30, 2020 11:12 a.m. EST
Updated January 30, 2020 11:59 a.m. EST

— Hot tub water that sprayed into the air likely caused an outbreak of Legionnaire's disease that killed four people in North Carolina last year, state health officials said Thursday.

Legionnaires’ disease is a form of lung infection treatable with antibiotics. It is most dangerous to people with weakened lungs or immune systems, those who have smoked and older people.

The state Department of Health and Human released its final report on the outbreak, which infected people who attended a state fair in western North Carolina. The final report tallied 136 cases of Legionnaire's disease and one case of Pontiac fever in residents of multiple states, officials said.

Ninety-six people were hospitalized.

People attending the North Carolina Mountain State Fair, held in September in Fletcher, were likely exposed to the bacteria in aerosolized water from hot tubs on display at the fair, the report said. Hot tubs have been linked to outbreaks of Legionnaires' disease nationally and internationally, state health officials said in a news release.

The bacteria that causes Legionnaires' diseases was likely present in one of the hot tubs, according to the report. Hot tubs were tested for the bacteria, but only weeks after the fair ended, so the report could not conclusively say how the bacteria got there or whether the hot tubs were the sole source of the bacteria.

Since the outbreak in western North Carolina, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated guidelines for hot tub displays at public events, in part based on findings from North Carolina, including suggested training for hot tub owners and vendors and recommended daily water tests

The final report confirms the cause that was included in an interim report released in October.

Our commenting policy has changed. If you would like to comment, please share on social media using the icons below and comment there.