Mendocino County Health & Human Services Agency
Healthy People, Healthy Communities
Stacey Cryer, Director
Date: August 4, 2014
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Mendocino County Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA) has been notified that 3 people were hospitalized with Legionnaires’ Disease in the Ukiah area; currently, 2 people have been discharged. Staff from HHSA Public Health Nursing, Environmental Health, along with the Mendocino County Public Health Officer, Dr. Craig McMillan and Deputy Public Health Officer, Dr. Charles Evans, have begun an investigation and are working to assist with mitigation, education and prevention. Staff are working with the property owner of the Discovery Inn located in Ukiah, CA to collect samples from the water systems which is one suspected source. The results have yet to be determined.
Legionnaires’ Disease is NOT spread from one person to another person. Legionnaires’ disease is caused by a type of bacteria called Legionella. The Legionella bacteria are found naturally in the environment, usually in water. People get Legionnaires’ disease when they breathe in a mist or vapor (small droplets of water in the air) containing the bacteria. One example might be from breathing in droplets sprayed from a hot tub that has not been properly cleaned and disinfected. Most people exposed to the bacteria do not become ill.
Legionnaires’ disease can have symptoms like many other forms of pneumonia, so it can be hard to diagnose at first. Signs of Legionnaires’ disease can include: cough, shortness of breath, high fever, muscle aches, headaches. These symptoms usually begin 2 to 14 days after being exposed to the bacteria.
Legionnaires’ disease requires treatment with antibiotics (drugs that kill bacteria in the body), and most cases of Legionnaires’ disease can be treated successfully with antibiotics. Healthy people usually get better after being sick with Legionnaires’ disease, but hospitalization is often required.
The key to preventing Legionnaires’ Disease is maintenance of the water systems in which Legionella bacteria grow, including drinking water systems, hot tubs, decorative fountains, and cooling towers. There are no vaccines that can prevent Legionnaires’ Disease. Persons at increased risk of infection, including the elderly, smokers, people with suppressed or compromised immunization systems, may choose to avoid high-risk exposures, such as being in or near a hot tub.
Source: California Department of Public Health (CDPH) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
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