Legionnaire's Disease Is Pervasive in Health Care Facilities
A new report issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicates Legionnaire's disease (a serious lung infection, or pneumonia, caused by inhaling small water droplets containing Legionella bacteria) is present in about 76 percent of health care facilities.
This finding is concerning because Legionnaire’s contracted in a health care setting is often severe and difficult to treat. According to the CDC, one in four people who come down with the disease while in a hospital or other health care facility will die from the infection. People over age 50 and those with certain risk factors—chronic illness, weakened immune system, former or current smoker, for example—are at increased risk.
In 2015, about 6,000 cases of Legionnaire’s disease were reported to the CDC, but only about half included information about where the exposure took place. The latest report included data from 20 states and New York City—areas that do include exposure data. It suggests about 3 percent of all Legionnaire's disease cases are “definitely” associated and another 17 percent are “possibly” associated with a health care facility.