RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – A third person has died of Legionnaire’s disease as the outbreak connected to a mountain fair grows to 140 people, North Carolina health officials said Monday.
The identity of the third person was not released.
The disease has been reported in multiple states and North Carolina counties from those who attended the NC Mountain State Fair at the Western North Carolina Agricultural Center in Fletcher.
The fair ran September 6-15.
A total of 49 cases have been reported in Buncombe County alone. Henderson County has the next highest count with 34.
Health officials traced the outbreak to hot tub displays at the fair.
Preliminary findings lead health officials to believe people diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease likely visited the Davis Event Center while at the fair and are even more likely to have reported walking past the hot tub displayed, the release said.
“Finding Legionella in one water sample is an important piece of the puzzle, but it does not tell us how so many people were exposed at this event,” said Dr. Zack Moore, State Epidemiologist. “To get Legionnaires’ disease or Pontiac fever, you have to breathe in Legionella in aerosolized water, meaning small droplets like mists or vapors.”
People who got sick were also more likely to have visited the event center during the latter half of the fair.
Testing identified Legionella in one water sample taken from the event center. Results are still pending from other samples, the release said.
Water systems that have been linked to past outbreaks include:
- Hot tubs
- Hot water tanks and heaters
- Large plumbing systems
- Cooling towers (structures that contain water and a fan as part of centralized air cooling systems for building or industrial processes)
- Decorative fountains
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