Cases of legionnaires’ disease reported in Erie County

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — More than 30 cases of Legionnaire’s disease have been reported in Erie County this year.

Dr. Gale Burstein, the county health commissioner, says these numbers are not uncommon for this area and this time of year.

“Every summer is different so it really depends on the water,” says Dr. Burstein. “The wetter the summer, the more cases of legionella.”

Erie County has had 38 reported cases of Legionnaires’ disease thus far this year; 21 of which came during the month of July. Officials are saying this is not an outbreak. Last year, the county had less reported cases but in 2013, there were twice the number of reported cases.

“I don’t want people to be panicked,” says Dr. Burstein. “I can assure you, we have no common source of infection. These cases are spread throughout the county. There is no common source. This is what we see every summer.”

The bacteria not spread between people but through water vapor from sources such as spas, water towers, and pipes in your own house.

“What we’re seeing in Erie county, is what we typically see – cases spread out throughout the county. Usually most of the cases are in a unique zip code,” says Dr. Burstein.

Erie County sent out an alert to health care providers about 10 days ago, making them aware of the signs and symptoms to look for which include coughing, shortness of breath, and difficulty breathing. Dr. Burstein says Legionnaires’ is mostly seen adults and usually can be treated with antibiotics.

“Legionella is one of the commoner causes of community acquired pneumonia,” says Dr. Burstein. “The people that fall very ill are the ones who already have other chronic health conditions.”

No one in Erie County as died from Legionnaires’. Dr. Burstein says they are thoroughly investigating every case they receive.

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