State investigating cases of Legionnaires’ disease

Published 10:43 pm Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Those infected all attended state fair in Fletcher this month

North Carolina—Polk County residents who attended the North Carolina Mountain State Fair in Fletcher Sept. 6-15 should be mindful that some people may have contracted Legionnaires’ disease there. 

Area health departments as well as the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services are investigating multiple cases of the disease. 

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One person has died from the disease. 

State officials said earlier this week there were 14 confirmed cases of Legionnaires’ disease, with nine of those being in Buncombe County, including the one person who died from the disease. 

While it has not yet been confirmed that the people contracted the disease at the recent fair, the only thing the infected had in common was that they all attended the fair. 

“We don’t yet know whether people might have been exposed to Legionella bacteria at the NC Mountain State Fair,” said State Epidemiologist Dr. Zack Moore. “As a precaution, we are recommending that anyone who went to the fair and has symptoms of pneumonia, like cough, fever or shortness of breath, see a doctor right away and talk with them about Legionnaires’ disease.”

The disease is a form of bacterial pneumonia, or a lung infection. It can be contracted when a person breathes in mist or accidentally swallows water into the lungs that contains Legionella bacteria. Symptoms normally begin 2-10 days after exposure, and include a cough, shortness of breath, fever, muscle aches and headaches. 

Legionnaires’ disease can be treated with antibiotics. 

North Carolina usually sees more than 150 cases of Legionnaires’ disease each year. 

Most healthy people exposed to the bacteria do not get symptoms, but people at higher risk, including people 50 years and older, current or former smokers and people who have chronic lung disease or a weaker immune system are at risk. 

The bacteria is found naturally in the environment and can grow and spread in man-made water systems like hot water tanks, cooling towers and air conditioning systems, fountains, hot tubs and spas that are not properly maintained, according to the Centers for Disease Control. 

Anyone who attended the state fair and are experiencing any of the symptoms, including a cough or shortness of breath should call their doctor immediately. 

For more information about Legionella bacteria and Legionnaires’ disease visit the CDC website at