County Health Department Continues To Investigate Increase In Legionellosis Cases

Due to an increase number of cases, seven so far, the Chemung County Health Department and New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) began an investigation.  On August 23, 2019 all medical providers, hospitals and emergency rooms in Chemung County and one at the immediate border, were notified of the increase in cases.  The last reported Legionellosis case was received on August 26, 2019.  The ill patients are recovering.  Environmental sampling has been conducted at several sites by NYSDOH and the results are pending.  The Heath Department continues to work with the patients and NYSDOH on this investigation.

This investigation may take several weeks and it is important to know the following about Legionellosis;

Legionellosis is caused by infection with Legionella bacteria and cases occur sporadically throughout a typical year.

Multiple possible sources are currently being investigated such as cooling towers, water tanks, large plumbing systems and fountains.  Most of the time, results are negative for Legionella bacteria.

Legionella is typically transmitted by breathing in tiny water droplets present in the air contaminated with the bacteria, not by drinking the water nor by being in contact with someone who is ill with Legionella.  Public water systems are not commonly found to be sources of Legionella outbreaks.

Most healthy individuals do not become infected with Legionella bacteria when exposed.  People at higher risk of getting sick are those with a history of chronic disease, smoking, chronic lung disease, cancer or weakened immune systems.

There is no need for the public to modify their activities in light of this increase in cases.  However, persons with respiratory illness should contact their primary care physician or seek health care.

If you have any question regarding Legionella, please call the Health Department at (607) 737-2028.

View a Legionellosis Fact Sheet at: http://www.health.ny.gov/diseases/communicable/legionellosis/fact_sheet.htm

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