The number of Legionnaires’ disease cases has increased statewide, state official report, which they attribute, in part, to increased testing and awareness.
According to a news release from the Iowa Department of Public Health, 48 reported cases have been reported so far in 2018.
That’s a 71 percent increase “from the four-year annual average” of 28 cases for the same time period, the release noted.
Legionellosis, or Legionnaires’ disease, is a severe form of pneumonia caused by bacteria that tends to be more common in the late summer or early fall. Most people are infected after they inhale microscopic water droplets containing the bacteria, which can be spread through the spray from a shower, facet or whirlpool as well as droplets dispersed through a ventilation system.
Legionnaire’s cases have been increasing nationwide, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In 2000, there were 0.4 reported cases per 100,000 people nationwide, but in 2016, that number increased to about two cases per 100,000.
“Potential contributing factors include increased testing, awareness, environmental exposures or patient susceptibility,” according to the Iowa Department of Public Health news release.
Known risk factors include smoking, chronic lung disease or other underlying illnesses or those over the age of 50. Cases also can be reported after overnight stays in hotels or health care facilities and exposure to hot tubs.
The disease typically develops between two and 10 days after exposure.
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Symptoms include headaches, muscle pain, chills and fever. Other signs and symptoms may include coughing, chest pain, shortness of breath and gastrointestinal symptoms.
Department of Public Health officials work with local public health officials to identify potential shared exposure locations or other risk factors.
For more information about Legionnaires’ disease, go to IDPH’s website here.
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