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Legionnaires' Disease Outbreak Continues To Grow In Western NC

CDC/ Dr. Francis Chandler
Legionella pneumophila bacteria at a very high magnification of 90,000X.

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services continues to investigate an outbreak of Legionnaires' disease believed to be contracted at the Mountain State Fair held in Fletcher, North Carolina last month.

As of Oct. 1, there were more than 100 confirmed cases and one death as a result of this airborne bacteria. State health officials are still trying to determine the source of the disease which is spread via contaminated water but not contagious. Some possible causes being investigated are the misting fan used to keep fair-goers cool and a hot tub display at the fair. Blue Ridge Public Radio reporter Helen Chickering has been following the story and shares her updates with host Frank Stasio.

Plus, are these outbreaks preventable? Clinical researcher and environmental microbiologist Janet E. Stout believes they are. Stout talks about identifying and eradicating the waterborne pathogens that cause Legionnaires' disease and shares her thoughts on the codes needed for prevention. Stout is president and director of Special Pathogens Laboratory and a research professor at the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering in the department of civil and environmental engineering.

Keep up with the outbreak of Legionnaires' disease here. Everyone who attended the 2019 Mountain State Fair is being asked to fill out a survey. To report possible cases call the Public Health Hotline at (828) 694-4040 or NCDHHS Division of Public Health at (919)733-3419.

Dana is an award-winning producer who began as a personality at Rock 92. Once she started creating content for morning shows, she developed a love for producing. Dana has written and produced for local and syndicated commercial radio for over a decade. WUNC is her debut into public radio and she’s excited to tell deeper, richer stories.
Longtime NPR correspondent Frank Stasio was named permanent host of The State of Things in June 2006. A native of Buffalo, Frank has been in radio since the age of 19. He began his public radio career at WOI in Ames, Iowa, where he was a magazine show anchor and the station's News Director.
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