One dead, 11 contracted Legionnaires’ disease in Napa County


One person died and 11 others contracted Legionnaires’ disease in California’s Napa County, health officials said, including three people who are still hospitalized with the rare disease.

The Legionella bacterium that causes it has been detected in the cooling tower at the Embassy Suites Napa Valley in the city of Napa, the county public health department saidbut an investigation is underway and other sources are being tested.

None of the 12 who fell ill in the outbreak that began July 11 stayed at the hotel and they weren’t employees, Dr. Napa County Public Health Officer Karen Relucio at a news conference Wednesday.

All 12 are Napa County residents and not tourists, she said, and in many cases live in the area where the hotel is located.

Three people remained hospitalized as of Wednesday, and one of those patients was on a ventilator, Relucio said. The other eight recovered.

The Legionella bacterium lives in water but can spread if this water is nebulized.

“When a cooling tower is contaminated with the bacteria, it can spread up to a mile,” Relucio said.

That cooling tower has been taken offline “mitigating any ongoing risk to public health,” the health department said.

In an outbreak area, it’s also common to find more than one source, according to the department.

Legionnaires’ disease causes severe pneumonia. The deceased was described as being over 50 years of age and with risk factors for serious illness.

The ages of people who have contracted the disease range from 58 to 80, Relucio said.

“The only thing that stands out to us is that many of them had pre-existing conditions,” such as lung disease, diabetes, kidney disease or other chronic diseases, she said.

Hilton, the company that owns Embassy Suites, did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday night.

Relucio said health officials have not identified any hotel guests or staff who have contracted the disease – although the incubation period can be as long as 14 days.

Not everyone exposed to the bacteria gets the disease, and most healthy people who are exposed don’t get it, according to the report Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

People aged 50 and older, people with a weakened immune system, current or former smokers or people with lung diseases are among those at increased risk.

The bacterium is naturally found in freshwater bodies such as lakes, but its main threat to humans arises when it grows and spreads in man-made building water systems, the agency said.

Legionnaires’ disease is rare, Relucio said. Napa County typically sees zero to two cases of Legionella per year.

The 12 cases were reported to health authorities from July 11 to July 27, the health department said. They live in the city of Napa, but one lives in Calistoga but had a history of visiting the city, Relucio said. One dead, 11 contracted Legionnaires’ disease in Napa County

Fry Electronics Team

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