Health Officials Investigating Case of Legionnaires’ Disease

For immediate release: August 1, 2002

Contact: Linda Dorey
Vermont Department of Health
802-863-7281

BURLINGTON—The Vermont Department of Health is investigating a single case of Legionnaires’ disease (legionellosis) in a woman in Washington County.

It is unknown where the woman acquired the disease. However, since she has spent time recently in the Dale Correctional Facility in Waterbury, Health Department staff are reviewing health records and building maintenance procedures with the facility staff.

The Department of Corrections is working closely with health officials.

It is the standard practice of the Health Department to investigate any reported case of Legionnaire’s disease. Every year in Vermont there is an average of seven sporadic cases reported.

Legionnaires’ disease is not passed from person to person. People can get it by inhaling the bacterium that causes the disease, Legionella pneumophila.

People of any age may get Legionnaires’ disease, but the illness most often affects middle-aged and older people, particularly those who smoke cigarettes or have chronic lung disease.

In the United States, an estimated 8,000 to 18,000 people get Legionnaires’ disease each year.

Legionnaire’s disease usually occurs as a single, isolated case not associated with any recognized outbreak. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that from 5 to 30 percent of people who have Legionnaires’ disease die of the disease.

Legionnaires’ disease acquired its name in 1976 when an outbreak of pneumonia occurred among persons attending a convention of the American Legion in Philadelphia.

For more information on Legionnaires’ disease, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website—www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dbmd/diseaseinfo/legionellosis_g.htm