Likely Cause Determined for State Fair Legionnaires’ Disease Outbreak
North Carolina health officials now believe a hot tub display is to blame for an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease during a state fair, according to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS).
Legionella bacteria were found in a water sample from the hot tubs, which were on display at the Davis Event Center at the Mountain State Fair in Fletcher, North Carolina last month. The outbreak resulted in 116 confirmed cases of Legionnaires’ disease, with one death and 80 hospitalizations. Another eight people who visited the fair were diagnosed with Pontiac Fever, a milder form of the disease. Most of the people diagnosed reported walking by the hot tub display. Officials had previously speculated the outbreak came from water rides at the fair.
The North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has closed the Davis Event Center while staff work to minimize water aerosolization opportunities that could spread the disease. The NCDHHS reminds facility staff that although legionella bacteria are common in nature, they also can be found in man-made water systems such as hot water tanks and heaters, plumbing systems, cooling towers, and decorative fountains.