1 Dead in New Vermont Legionnaires' Disease Outbreak

The outbreak centers on the St. Albans area, but its source remains unknown

An illustration of Legionnaire's disease

A Legionnaires' disease outbreak in Vermont has led to one person's death, health officials said Tuesday.

The source of the disease, with five cases confirmed, remains unknown, according to the Vermont Department of Health. They said the risk to the general public in St. Albans, where the cases appear to be clustered, is very low.

Legionnaires' disease is a form of pneumonia spread through water mist or vapor, usually from air conditioning in large buildings or other large systems that use water, like hot tubs and plumbing symptoms.

The cases in this outbreak were reported between Aug. 12 and 29, and the person who died was in their 70s. Health officials are asking that building owners check water systems for Legionella bacteria, which causes the disease, Vermont Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine said.

"Illness from Legionnaires' disease can be successfully treated with antibiotics. But it can also result in very serious illness, so it’s important to reach out to your doctor if you have symptoms," he said in a statement.

About 1 in 10 people who become sick die from Legionaires' disease. Most people exposed to Legionella bacteria don't get sick, but people 50 and older who have smoked, have a chronic lung disease or with weakened immune systems are at risk.

The disease is not contagious. Anyone in Franklin County who has symptoms, which include cough, fever, aches and shortness of breath, is asked to see a health care professional to get checked out.

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