Legionnaire’s disease spread throughout the U.S. as health authorities are struggling to understand what caused the outbreak and how to put an end to it.
In August, according to the CDC the reported cases of legionella infections or legionnaire’s disease spread at a faster rate and more than doubled compared to estimated levels for the month. Pinpointing one cause for this rapid surge is a difficult task for health authorities.
Nonetheless, the U.S. aging population is recurrently referred to. Other possible causes are believed to be environmental factors, as well as climate change-related factors. At the same time, it was stated that as U.S. citizens are becoming more aware of the infection and as the diagnosis methodologies are being perfected, it is possible that the surge in reported case of legionnaire’s disease is simply statistical.
During this summer, the bacteria has made numerous victims, among which 20 have died. 12 of the deaths were registered in New York’s Bronx, while another 8 were registered in Illinois, at a veteran’s home. Investigations are still ongoing. Still, the latest reports see health authorities worried about the spread to San Quentin State Prison, California where the legionella bacteria is already affecting numerous prisoners.
Between 2001 and 2012 the reported cases of legionnaire’s disease all but tripled, according to national statistics. Yet, it is difficult to assess whether this is really a surge or it is simply statistical. Nonetheless, the CDC stated that the number of legionnaire’s disease outbreak this year is still within the limits of what was estimated. What is more alarming is the number of cases reported per outbreak.
The Legionnaire’s disease, also coined Legion fever or legionellosis is a type of pneumonia that is caused by all legionella bacteria strains. Symptoms are typically felt in between 2 to 10 days of exposure. In some rare instances, it takes 20 days until the symptoms appear. Pneumonia, organ failure and septic shock are among the most severe risks posed by the disease.
The report released by the CDC on September 4th indicated that a number of 404 cases of legionnaire’s disease and Pontiac Fever were reported in a timeframe of four weeks. The same timeframe over the previous past years would have yielded twice less cases of infection.
According to CDC estimated, between 8,000 and 18,000 U.S. citizens end up under medical care due to legionnaire’s disease yearly.
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