Officials Investigate Link Between Legionnaires' Disease And Macomb County Hospital

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By WWJ Newsradio 950

MACOMB COUNTY (WWJ) - The Macomb County Health Department is investigating seven possible cases of Legionnaires' disease at one local hospital.

The source of the illness hasn't yet been identified, but six of the seven cases have been reported at McLaren Macomb Hospital since mid-September. 

Legionnaires' disease is a respiratory infection caused by breathing in a mist of fresh water contaminated with Legionella bacteria. Symptoms of fever and cough are consistent with pneumonia. Time between exposure to the bacteria and onset of illness is two to 10 days. 

Hospital officials say they're fully cooperating with the investigation.

Officials say Macomb County has experienced an increase in the number of Legionnaires’ disease diagnoses in recent months, with 45 cases so far this year and 96 cases in the last 12 months.

Legionella bacteria are naturally occurring in fresh water sources. The organism can multiply in manmade water systems such as cooling towers, decorative fountains, hot tubs and large building plumbing systems. After Legionella grows and multiplies in a building water system, water containing Legionella can spread in droplets small enough for people to breathe in. People can get the disease when they breathe in small droplets of water in the air that contain the bacteria.

Individuals at higher risk include those who are age 50 or older; have a current or past smoking history; or have an underlying illness or condition such as chronic lung disease, kidney or liver failure, diabetes, systemic malignancies, or immune system disorders due to medications or disease. Recent travel and overnight stays in hospitals or other healthcare facilities can increase an individual’s risk for exposure.

If you are concerned about possible symptoms of pneumonia, contact your primary care provider. For more information, visit