Nine cases of Legionnaire’s Disease confirmed

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(Host) State health officials report two more people have been diagnosed with Legionnaire’s disease. That brings to nine the number of confirmed cases in Central Vermont.

VPR’s Steve Zind reports.

(Zind) Health Commissioner Jan Carney says she expects that more people will get sick before the current outbreak is over.

(Carney) “It’s important to point out because there can be up to ten days between when a person’s exposed and when symptoms appear, and that’s called the incubation period. And because we are actively looking for cases, we expect that additional cases may be confirmed into next week.”

(Zind) Carney says one of the new cases involves a worker at the state office complex in Waterbury. Seven others who were diagnosed live or work in Waterbury. Carney says the department suspects that two large air conditioning units and a hot water system at the complex are possible sources of the disease. Those systems were cleaned out over the weekend.

Carney says the bacteria that causes Legionnaire’s disease can be carried some distance from a source. This might account for the fact not all those diagnosed work at the office complex.

(Carney) “From the published literature, some community outbreaks have been reported with a half-mile radius and a maximum of about a mile or so.”

(Zind) Carney says she’s unable to release details about the conditions of the people being treated for the disease. Vermont sees several cases each year. There have been eleven deaths from the disease in the last eight years.

Terry Macaig of the Vermont State Employees Association says when the first reports of Legionnaire’s Disease surfaced last week, his office received dozens of calls from concerned state workers in Waterbury.

(Macaig) “The initial response from several employees was one of great concern for their safety and health in the facility at the Waterbury complex.”

(Zind) Macaig says workers at the complex are satisfied with the steps the state has taken to prevent the spread of the disease.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Steve Zind.

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