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MDHHS Investigating Legionnaires’ Disease Cases In Genesee County

LANSING, Mich. – The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) is investigating a case of Legionnaires’ Disease (LD) in a patient who spent time in McLaren Flint Hospital. This is part of an ongoing investigation of a cluster of cases reported in 2018 and 2019 with exposure histories that involve the hospital, MDHHS announced in a press release dated May 10.

The most recent case spent their exposure period as an inpatient at McLaren Flint Hospital and had an illness onset in the beginning of May 2019. The identification of a potential source of these infections is on-going and involves local, state, and federal public health agencies and McLaren Flint Hospital. Hospital administration has been cooperating with the investigation.

LD is a respiratory infection caused by Legionella bacteria. LD is a severe infection that includes symptoms of fever, cough and radiologic findings consistent with pneumonia. Legionella bacteria are naturally occurring in fresh water sources. The organism can multiply in manmade water systems such as cooling towers, decorative fountains, hot tubs and large building plumbing systems.

After Legionella grows and multiplies in a building water system, water containing Legionella can spread in droplets small enough for people to breathe in. People can get LD when they breathe in small droplets of water in the air that contain the bacteria.

Individuals at higher risk for LD include those who are age 50 or older; have a current or past smoking history; or have an underlying illness or condition such as chronic lung disease, kidney or liver failure, diabetes, systemic malignancies, or immune system disorders due to medications or disease. Recent travel and overnight stays in hospitals or other healthcare facilities can increase an individual’s risk for exposure to LD.

Patients with pneumonia should be tested for LD if they have any of the following histories:

  • Have failed outpatient antibiotic treatment for community-acquired pneumonia.
  • Are immunocompromised.
  • Are admitted to the ICU.
  • Traveled within 10 days prior to symptom onset.
  • Were recently hospitalized.
  • Developed pneumonia ≥48 hours after hospital admission.

If you are concerned about possible symptoms of pneumonia you should contact your primary care provider. Further information regarding LD is available from the CDC website at Cdc.gov/legionella.

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