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Michigan Notices Sudden Spike in Legionnaires Instances

Michigan notices an unprecedented spike in Legionnaires’ disease cases, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services announced Monday. There were 107 cases of Legionnaires reported between July 1-14, a 569% increase from the same period in 2020 and a 161% increase from 2019.

The disease causes respiratory infection and can give a person a fever, cough, and pneumonia. It is spread through mist or vapor of the Legionella bacteria so it is not transmitted from person to person. The department states that most healthy people who encounter the bacteria will not get sick.Legionnaires are most dangerous for people over the age of 50, current or former smokers, people with chronic lung disease, people with weak immune systems, and people on immunosuppressant drugs.Joneigh Khaldun, the agency’s chief deputy director for health, said that recent weather trends, including rain, flooding, and warmer weather, maybe playing a role in the rise of reported legionellosis cases this summer.

Khaldun added that we want everyone to be aware of Legionnaire disease, especially if they may be at higher risk for illness, and we ask that healthcare providers remain vigilant and test and treat appropriately. Risk factors for the disease include staying overnight while traveling, staying in a healthcare facility, exposure to a hot tub, and exposure to settings where recent plumbing repairs were made.

The state’s chief medical director Joneigh Khaldun wants people over 50, especially those with weakened immune systems, to be aware and doctors to remain vigilant, testing and treating patients who complain of these symptoms. Chest pain, problems breathing, fever, sometimes diarrhea are associated with this one; shortness of breath are the typical things we see with pneumonia.

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