Health officials confirm 11th case of Legionnaires’ disease in Chesterfield

Chesterfield County

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — Health officials in Chesterfield confirmed the county’s 11th case of Legionnaires’ disease Thursday. This comes after samples taken from several Chesterfield locations found the bacteria that can cause the disease.

The Chesterfield Health District (CHD) said in a July release that there were 10 verified cases, all since the start of May, reported among older adults and people with medical conditions. The CHD’s director, Dr. Alexander Samuel, told 8News that the county’s 11th case was contracted by an elderly person.

Legionnaires’ disease, which is caused by the Legionella bacteria that naturally live in lakes in streams, is a type of pneumonia, according to CHD. The bacteria is a concern when it’s aerosolized into small droplets into private water systems — like cooling towers, hot tubs and fountains — the release said.

“The risk to residents or visitors to Chesterfield County is very small,” said Chesterfield Health District Director, Dr. Alexander Samuel, in July. “Out of an abundance of caution, the health district recommends that individuals who become ill with pneumonia-like or respiratory symptoms, such as fever, chills, cough, shortness of breath, muscle aches and headache promptly seek medical care.”

The areas that have tested positive include three schools, Johnston-Willis Hospital and several businesses. Dr. Samuel said that the existence of the bacteria does not mean people came in contact with it.

Confirmed locations where the bacteria was found:

  • Richmond Free Zone
  • Johnston & Willis Hospital
  • Reynolds Metal Company
  • U.S. Defense Supply Company
  • Midlothian Middle School
  • Falling Creek Middle School
  • Greenfield Elementary School

The CHD says the agency is working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to identify the source of the Legionella exposure. An ongoing investigation is working to rule out possible sources, according to CHD, as finding the origin of the bacteria is not typically determined.

“Legionnaires’ disease is not generally spread person to person or by drinking water,” Dr. Samuel said in the July release.

You can find more information about Legionnaires’ disease here.

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