Cases of Legionnaires’ Disease In Maine, Massachusetts, and Connecticut Nearly Double

The total number of Legionnaires’ cases in Maine, Massachusetts, and Connecticut has nearly doubled from last year, reports Reuters. Many states in New England had dramatic increases as well, but surprisingly states in other parts of the country did not. For example, California confirmed only slightly more cases than last year.

New York and Pennsylvania also saw large jumps in Legionnaires’ cases.

Legionnaires’ disease is a very serious form of pneumonia that results in long term health effects or a flu-like illness called Pontiac Fever. Most individuals become infected by inhaling Legionella bacteria in the air; it is not spread from person to person. The bacteria spread through mist or vapor from contaminated water in hot tubs, cooling towers, faucets, showerheads, and other water systems. A current or previous smoking habit, chronic lung disease, age (usually 50 years or older), and the use of certain rheumatoid arthritis and chemotherapy drugs can increase the risk of contracting Legionnaires’ disease.

Epidemiologists have not yet given a reason for the increase, but they are considering various explanations, including increased awareness of Legionnaires’ causing more testing, climate changes, more air conditioner use, and a larger number of seniors who are more vulnerable than younger people.

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