Outbreak of legionnaires in Rare Bay Area leaves 1 dead and 12 sick

A rare outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease in the North Bay has resulted in one death and numerous hospitalizations, Napa County health officials said Tuesday.

Since July 11, 12 people in the county have been “sick and hospitalized” for the deadly form of pneumonia, often linked to contamination of a hot water supply.

“We are deeply saddened by this person’s death, and our thoughts and condolences go out to the family. We share the concern for everyone affected by this outbreak,” Napa County Public Health Officer Dr. Karen Relucio said in a statement.

The location of the outbreak is still unclear. The identity of the person who died has also not been released. SFGATE has reached out to the county for more details but has not received a response at the time of publication.

This is the first death in Napa County from the disease in several years, the county said.

In May, an outbreak of legionnaires was linked to a luxurious Hilton hotel in Waikiki, Hawaii. No deaths were reported in that outbreak.

Legionnaires’ disease is a type of pneumonia caused by exposure to Legionella bacteria. The disease got its name from the first identified outbreak, in 1976 during the three-day annual convention of the American Legion at the Bellevue-Stratford Hotel in Philadelphia.

The bacteria can contaminate water tanks, shower heads, and hot tubs, and is spread by breathing spray containing the bacteria. There is no vaccine for Legionnaires’ disease; cases are usually treated with antibiotics. Flu-like symptoms include cough, shortness of breath, muscle aches, and high fever.

According to the CDC, one in 10 people who get legionnaires’ disease dies from a high fever and a buildup of fluid in the lungs that can make it hard to breathe.

While there are an estimated 10,000 cases of Legionnaires’ disease in the US each year, outbreaks only occur “sporadically” and are investigated to identify the source, which is often the complex water system of a large building, says the CDC.

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