According to Dr. Janet Stout “…I’ve not seen a spike like this that can be explained other than these recent weather events. I’ve been in touch with public health officials and microbiologists in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York and they’re all stating the same thing. Basically that there’s been a spike in reported cases of Legionnaires Disease that they haven’t seen in the history of reporting.”
Stout concedes that some of the increase may come from doctors diagnosing it better. But she doubts that explains the whole spike.
“One thing we’ve seen over the last several years is this pattern where there’s an increased number of cases after these weather events…legionella the bacteria comes into buildings in the incoming cold water. Legionella are more resistant to the chemicals like chlorine that are in water. So when you have these water events you might see an increase in the turbidity of water so more nutrients are in the water and legionella takes advantage of that situation to multiply.”
Stout says over her decades of study, she’s chagrined to still be talking about basic preventive measures.
“One of things that I feel very strongly about is that hospitals should be looking to improve the quality of their water so that legionella and other water-borne pathogens are not a threat to those patients…What we would like to see is that water is tested for legionella before any cases occur.”