The Genesee County Health Department is reminding residents of the ongoing risk of Legionnaires’ disease as winter weather begins.
According to the health department, although the disease is more common during warmer months in the summer and early fall, legionella bacteria grows year-round, and poses health risks when it grows in areas of the home such as:
• Showerheads and sink faucets
• Hot tubs
• Decorative fountains and water features
• Hot water tanks and heaters
• Areas of construction that disturb dirt and soil
The health department said proper maintenance and disinfection of the water systems listed above are the most effective measures when it comes to preventing Legionnaires’ disease.
There have been 32 confirmed cases of Legionnaires’ disease reported in Genesee County in 2021 so far, compared to 26 cases in 2020 and 28 cases in 2019 during the same time periods, according to the health department.
The disease is not contagious, and symptoms usually appear two to 14 days after exposure to the bacteria, according to the health department. Symptoms can include cough, shortness of breath, fever, muscle aches, headaches, diarrhea, or mental status changes.
According to the health department, people at an increased risk of contracting Legionnaires’ disease include:
• People 50 years or older
• Current or former smokers
• People with chronic lung disease such as emphysema or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
• People with weakened immune systems from other underlying illnesses or medications
For more information, you can visit the CDC Legionnaire’s Disease Fact Sheet or the GCHD Legionnaire’s Disease Fact Sheet.