Five more cases of Legionnaire’s confirmed

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(Host) Five more cases of Legionnaire’s Disease have been reported in Central Vermont. But state health officials say they’re confident they’ve eliminated the source of the outbreak.

VPR’s Steve Zind reports.

(Zind) The new cases bring to fourteen the number of people diagnosed with the disease. It’s the largest outbreak the state has ever seen. On average, there are seven cases a year in Vermont. Most are isolated incidents.

This time, all but one of the cases are apparently connected to a source in Waterbury. Health Commissioner Jan Carney says despite the recent spike in the number of people infected, all showed symptoms of the disease last week. That was before the state took steps to disinfect several cooling towers in Waterbury:

(Carney) “We are optimistic that the measures that have been taken to eliminate potential bacteria will be effective, but we’re going to continue to look for any additional cases of Legionnaire’s Disease.”

(Zind) Carney says she expects to see more cases before the current outbreak is over.

Legionnaire’s Disease became a public health concern in 1976, when 29 people died after being infected at an American Legion convention in Philadelphia. Carney says during the current outbreak, Vermont health officials took advantage of what’s been learned about the disease since the deaths in Philadelphia:

(Carney) “How that helped us here was when-. It was a little over a week ago that we had one case reported and the literature helped direct us immediately to large cooling structures.”

(Zind) In addition to the fourteen people diagnosed, Carney says two others have developed a milder form of the infection caused by Legionnaire’s bacteria.

Symptoms of the disease include fever, chills, severe muscle aches, cough and difficulty breathing.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Steve Zind.

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