Health Officials Share Early Findings in Legionnaires’ Disease Outbreak Investigation in WNC | Beaufort County Now | The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services is sharing early findings from an ongoing investigation to determine how people were exposed to Legionella bacteria | department of health and human services, DHHS, legionnaires disease, NC mountain state fair, october 4, 2019

Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)

Health Officials Share Early Findings in Legionnaires’ Disease Outbreak Investigation in WNC

Press Release:

    RALEIGH     The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services is sharing early findings from an ongoing investigation to determine how people were exposed to Legionella bacteria at the NC Mountain State Fair, which took place Sept. 6-15, 2019 at the Western North Carolina Agricultural Center in Fletcher, NC. As of Oct. 2, 2019, 124 cases of Legionnaires' disease and Pontiac fever (a milder form of infection) had been reported in people who attended or worked at the fair.

    Preliminary findings indicate that people who were diagnosed with Legionnaires' disease were much more likely to have visited the Davis Event Center while at the fair and much more likely to report having walked by the hot tub displays compared to people who did not get sick. The Davis Event Center is a large building that housed many vendor displays during the fair, including hot tubs. People who were diagnosed with Legionnaires' disease were also much more likely to have visited during the latter half of the fair compared to people who did not get sick. These early findings are from an ongoing study comparing information gathered through surveys of people who were diagnosed with Legionnaires' disease with similar information gathered from people who attended the fair but did not get sick.

    Health officials are also reporting early results from laboratory testing of environmental samples. To date, testing has identified Legionella bacteria in one water sample taken from the Davis Event Center; results are still pending from other samples taken as part of this investigation.

    "Finding Legionella in one water sample is an important piece of the puzzle, but it does not tell us how so many people were exposed at this event," said Dr. Zack Moore, State Epidemiologist. "To get Legionnaires' disease or Pontiac fever, you have to breathe in Legionella in aerosolized water, meaning small droplets like mists or vapors."

    Taken together, these early findings suggest that low levels of Legionella present were able to grow in hot tubs or possibly some other source in the Davis Event Center leading to exposure through breathing in aerosolized water that contained the bacteria; however, this is an ongoing investigation.

    Health officials visited the Western North Carolina Agricultural Center on Sept. 25 and Sept. 27 - after the fair had ended - and did not identify any significant sources of aerosolized water on the site. Very little aerosolized water is created from hand washing sinks, toilets and other currently operating water sources at the Agricultural Center, meaning the risk of exposure to Legionella is low.

    The North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services shared the following information:

    "The decision has been made to suspend the rental of the Davis Event Center at this time while we review and implement mitigation plans for the facility. This is being done out of an abundance of caution and to reassure event attendees, fairgoers and Ag Center employees that the center is safe for occupancy. Additionally, in collaboration with public health, we have taken steps to minimize water aerosolization opportunities on the grounds, as this is considered the means by which the Legionella bacteria is contracted. While we all feel confident that the facility is safe, we want to take these proactive mitigation measures to reassure the public and our employees."

    "Although Legionnaires' disease is a rare infection, this is a reminder that the bacteria that cause it are common in nature and can be found in man-made water systems," said Dr. Moore. "This means it's very important for owners and managers of water systems that can create aerosols to take steps to prevent Legionella from growing and spreading in water systems."

    Water systems that have been linked to past Legionnaires' disease outbreaks include:

  • Hot tubs
  • Hot water tanks and heaters
  • Large plumbing systems
  • Cooling towers (structures that contain water and a fan as part of centralized air cooling systems for building or industrial processes)
  • Decorative fountains

    Public health officials are actively monitoring for new cases of Legionnaires' disease. As of Oct. 3, there is no indication of an ongoing exposure since the end of the NC Mountain State Fair.

    Updated case counts and information about the outbreak are available at https://epi.dph.ncdhhs.gov/cd/legionellosis/outbreak.html.

    More information about Legionella bacteria and Legionnaires' disease can also be found on the CDC website at https://www.cdc.gov/legionella/index.html and on the DPH website at https://epi.dph.ncdhhs.gov/cd/diseases/legionellosis.html.


  • NC Department of Health and Human Services
  • 2001 Mail Service Center
  • Raleigh, NC 27699-2001
  • Ph: (919) 855-4840
  • news@dhhs.nc.gov



HbAD0

Latest Health and Fitness

As the Coronavirus pandemic, or COVID-19, progresses through mutation and spread throughout the world and, ultimately, the United States, BCN shall endeavor to keep the public informed.
Vidant Health continues to receive weekly shipments of both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine as allocated by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services announced today that vaccine providers that are ready to expand may vaccinate all health care workers and anyone 65 years and older.
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services is partnering with health systems, local health departments and community health centers across the state to host large community vaccine events for people currently eligible to be vaccinated.
Vidant Health continues to receive weekly shipments of both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine as allocated by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.

HbAD1

Vidant Health continues to receive weekly shipments of both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine as allocated by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.
Governor Cooper extended North Carolina’s Modified Stay At Home Order that requires people to be at home from 10 p.m.- 5 a.m. to last through at least Friday, January 29.
Governor Roy Cooper will join members of The North Carolina Council on Health Care Coverage for its third meeting today as the Council discusses options and guiding principles to expand access to health care coverage for North Carolinians.
They are among the state’s 75 and older population now eligible to receive the vaccines and discuss why it’s the best shot at stopping the spread of COVID-19
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services today issued a Secretarial Directive telling North Carolinians to stay home except for essential activities and avoid gathering, especially indoors, with people who do not live with you.
Today, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services announced that Food and Nutrition Services recipients will see a temporary increase in the amount of benefits they receive.

HbAD2

Vidant continues to receive weekly shipments of both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine as allocated by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.

HbAD3

 
Back to Top