North Carolina

1 dead, others sick in Legionnaires’ outbreak linked to NC fair, officials say

An outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease linked to the North Carolina Mountain State Fair has killed one person and sickened “multiple people,” according to health officials.

Public health officials say anyone who went to the fair earlier this month and is showing symptoms of the lung disease should see a doctor.

State and local officials are investigating “multiple cases” of the disease connected to people who went to the fair in Fletcher, near Asheville, Sept. 6-15, the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services said.

One person has died from the disease since the fair ended, WLOS reports.

State investigators say they’ve found 14 cases of Legionnaires’ disease, according to WSPA. Nine of those cases, including the death, are in Buncombe County, WSPA reports.

“We don’t yet know whether people might have been exposed to Legionella bacteria at the NC Mountain State Fair,” said State Epidemiologist Dr. Zack Moore in a statement.

“As a precaution, we are recommending that anyone who went to the fair and has symptoms of pneumonia, like cough, fever or shortness of breath, see a doctor right away and talk with them about Legionnaires’ disease,” Moore said.

North Carolina has more than 150 cases of Legionnaires’ disease reported each year, health officials say. The lung infection is a form of bacterial pneumonia that people can develop from breathing in mist or getting water in the lungs that has the Legionella bacteria, DHHS said.

Legionnaires’ disease can be a serious illness, especially for people with existing lung conditions, weak immune systems or older people, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The same bacteria “can also cause a milder flu-like illness called Pontiac fever, which resolves without treatment,” state health officials said.

The annual 10-day fair in the mountains of western North Carolina attracted 170,000 people this year, The Asheville Citizen Times reports.

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Charles Duncan covers what’s happening right now across North and South Carolina, from breaking news to fun or interesting stories from across the region. He holds degrees from N.C. State University and Duke and lives two blocks from the ocean in Myrtle Beach.