Since 2000, reported cases of Legionnaires’ disease in the United States have grown by nearly nine times. It’s uncertain whether this is due to awareness and testing, an increase in the vulnerable population, more Legionella bacteria in the environment, or a combination of factors.
A study estimated that the actual number of Legionnaires’ disease may be between 1.8 – 2.7 times higher than reported.
Legionnaires’ disease is a serious type of pneumonia that is caused by Legionella bacteria. Outbreaks tend to spike in the summer and early fall but can occur at any time of the year.
The summer of 2023 has seen an uptick in people contracting Legionnaires’ disease, particularly in large metropolitan areas like Las Vegas and New York City.
How Legionnaires’ Disease Spreads
Legionella bacteria are naturally found in freshwater, like streams and lakes but can become a concern when it spreads to human-made water systems like hot tubs, water tanks, plumbing systems, and cooling towers.
When Legionella grows in water systems, it can spread in small droplets in the water. People can become ill when they breathe in droplets that are contaminated with Legionella bacteria. Since Legionnaires’ is a type of pneumonia, symptoms can vary, but shortness of breath, fatigue, fever, chills, headaches, and muscle aches are some of the most common.
New York City: 3 Confirmed Cases
Within the past 12 months, three guests who stayed at the InterContinental New York Barclay Hotel in Midtown have contracted Legionnaires’ disease. According to the New York City Department of Health, testing confirmed Legionella bacteria in the hotel’s water system.
As a result, the hotel released a statement that they were being proactive to ensure the water remains safe and guests may notice the water temperature is hotter than usual.
Las Vegas Hotel: 2 Confirmed Cases
Two guests developed Legionnaires’ disease after staying at the Orleans Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas in December 2022 and January 2023. The Health District had environmental testing done on hotel water samples, which confirmed the presence of Legionella bacteria.
The hotel promptly reached out to past guests to inform them of possible exposure and started remediation procedures along with a water management plan to prevent future exposure.
Grand Rapids, MN: 5 Confirmed Cases
The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) is investigating to determine the source of a cluster of Legionnaires’ in Grand Rapids, Minnesota after five people contracted the disease. The five adults became sick and were hospitalized between the end of April and mid-July, all of whom live or spent time in Grand Rapids.
In 2022, Minnesota reported 109 cases of Legionnaires’ disease, although they were not associated with any outbreak or cluster, and were considered sporadic.
Legionella Identification Testing
Comprehensive testing is the first step in prevention. Our Legionella Detection Program is an inclusive system approach, performed using conventional culture methods to identify isolates of Legionella pneumophila or other Legionella species with high accuracy.
The Environmental Legionella Isolation Techniques Evaluation (ELITE) program is the only official Legionella testing certification program in the United States, created by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
In 2009, SanAir Technologies Laboratory was accredited by the CDC ELITE program as an ELITE program member.
For Legionella Identification Testing, contact SanAir Technologies Laboratory by calling 888-895-1177 or reach out online. We can provide sample collection materials and instructions to complete Legionella testing and test your sample quickly in our state-of-the-art laboratory.