An outbreak of the potentially fatal Legionnaires’ disease is being investigated by local health authorities in a county in northern California. According to the Napa County Department of Public Health, since July 11 a total of twelve local citizens have been hospitalized after being diagnosed with the very unusual lung illness. According to statements made by health authorities on Wednesday, one of those victims has now passed away while another three remain hospitalized. The county has been conducting tests to determine whether or not man-made water sources, such as cooling towers and ornamental fountains, contain the bacterium that is responsible for Legionnaires’ disease as part of its inquiry.
A sample retrieved from a cooling tower at the Embassy Suites Napa Valley hotel in the city of Napa had “high levels” of the Legionella bacterium, according to the preliminary findings of an investigation into the matter. The cooling tower has been taken offline, which reduces any ongoing risk to public health. The county health department has stated that it is continuing to identify any other sources that have unsafe amounts of the bacteria, and it is also looking into the possibility of there being additional sources.
According to the professionals in charge of public health, none of the 12 people who have been diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease can be linked to having stayed at or visited the Embassy Suites hotel. The bacteria that cause legionellosis thrive in warm water and constitute a potential threat to human health when they spread via man-made water systems such as plumbing, cooling towers, and ornamental fountains and hot tubs. Inhaling even a few tiny droplets of water that is contaminated with legionella bacteria may make a person sick with legionnaires’ illness.
The cough, fever, and trouble breathing that characterize Legionnaires’ illness are telltale signs of the condition. It is not contagious from one person to another, and if identified in its early stages, medicines are effective in treating it.
Those aged 50 and older, smokers, as well as individuals with chronic lung illness or immune systems that are impaired are at a greater risk of becoming ill with Legionnaires’ disease, which is a dangerous kind of pneumonia.