Healthcare experts have reported an alarming rise in cases of the potentially fatal illness that nearly claimed my mother’s life a little more than a year ago – Legionnaire’s Disease.
“Legionaries’ disease can happen in a variety of ways,” said Stephen Ostroff, physician service representative for the Pennsylvania Department of Health.
“It usually happens when water that contains the legionella bacteria is aerosolized and people inhale that water. We think that the heavy rains may have produced conditions for proliferation of legionella bacteria that would translate to increased likelihood of exposure to the bacteria.”
Janet Stout, director of the Special Pathogens Laboratory in Pittsburgh, Penn., has been studying Legionnaires’ Disease for more than 30 years.
“I started just a few years after the Philadelphia outbreak at the American Legion convention,” Stout said. “I’ve not seen a spike like this that can be explained other than these recent weather events.”
Stout is referring to the rainy summer many parts of the country had experienced this year.
Stout has been in frequent contact with public health officials, microbiologists and others representing the physician services sector, from Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York.
“They’re all stating the same thing,” she said. “Basically, that there’s been a spike in cases of Legionnaires’ disease that they haven’t seen in the history of reporting.”