20 Legionnaires’ cases confirmed in Buncombe; one death

Sept. 27, 2019, update from Buncombe County Health and Human Services:

Buncombe County HHS is reporting 20 confirmed cases of Legionnaires’ disease, including one fatality, as of 5pm on 9.26.19.

To check the status of the outbreak throughout the weekend, visit this link: https://epi.dph.ncdhhs.gov/cd/legionellosis/outbreak.html

BCHHS is continuing to work with local providers to identify and investigate additional cases. We have no new information other than case counts to report at this time.


Sept. 25, 2019, press release from Buncombe County Health and Human Services:

Buncombe County, N.C.- Numerous cases of Legionnaires’ disease have been reported to Buncombe County Health and Human Services by local medical providers over the past several days. The investigation of these cases is ongoing. The NC Communicable Disease Branch is working with Mountain State Fair organizers to investigate a possible connection of these cases with attendance at the fair earlier this month (Sept. 6-15th). As of Tuesday, September 24th, there are nine confirmed cases of Legionnaires’ disease in Buncombe County residents, including one fatality caused by the illness.

Legionnaires’ disease is caused by Legionella bacteria. It is spread through water droplets in the air that people can breathe in. Legionnaires’ disease is not typically spread person to person. State Health Officials, event organizers, and Local Health Departments are investigating reports and working to identify a source.

Legionnaires’ disease causes a severe lung infection or pneumonia. Symptoms may include cough, high fever, weakness, muscle aches, headaches, and shortness of breath. Legionnaires’ disease is treated with antibiotics. Most people who get sick with it need to be hospitalized, but recover fully. However, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 1 out of 10 people with Legionnaires’ disease will die from the infection.

Most healthy people exposed to Legionella do not become sick but certain people are at increased risk for getting Legionnaires’ Disease including:

  • Those age 50 or older
  • Current or former smokers
  • Those with chronic lung disease like emphysema or COPD
  • Those with weakened immune systems due to disease or medication

If you attended the Mountain State Fair and are sick with symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease, we recommend you see your health care provider and discuss Legionnaires’ disease with them. If you live in Buncombe County and have questions about Legionnaires’ disease, please call Buncombe County Communicable Disease at (828) 250 – 5109.

Earlier today, NCDHHS issued a press release about the investigation. For more information on Legionnaires’ disease, visit this link. You may also view the attached fact sheets from the CDC.

BCHHS will be providing updates daily at 3:30 p.m.

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