NAPA, Calif. -- An outbreak of Legionnaires' disease in Napa County has caused several hospitalizations and one death, a spokesperson for the county said on Tuesday evening.
The ailment has sickened 12 people since July 11, the county said.
Legionnaires' disease is a type of pneumonia that is caused by the bacteria Legionella, which grows in warm water. Most cases can be traced to contamination of artificial water systems such as cooling towers for air conditioning in buildings or decorative fountains.
Napa County Public Health is working closely with a joint investigation team from the California Department of Public Health, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Napa County Environmental Health Branch of the Planning Building and Environmental Department, the county said. Authorities are sampling water for Legionella and recommending remediation strategies where appropriate to prevent further transmission.
The reported fatality was the first one identified in the county "for several years," the county said.
"We are deeply saddened by the death of this individual," said Deputy Director of Health and Human Services Dr. Karen Relucio. "Our thoughts and condolences go out to the family. We share concern for all impacted by this outbreak."
Symptoms of Legionnaires' disease include fever, chills, muscle aches and cough. It is not transmitted person-to-person, only from breathing in water vapor containing the bacteria. There is no danger from most home air conditioning units, which do not use water vapor for cooling.
People at a higher risk for serious illness include those over 50, cigarette smokers and people with chronic lung disease or compromised immune systems. Legionnaire's is treatable with antibiotics.
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