Legionnaires lawyer Elliot Olsen has extensive experience when it comes to filing a Legionnaires lawsuit. If you or a family member were sickened in this outbreak linked to Mountain State Fair hot tubs at the Davis Events Center, you might have reason to do just that. Call Elliot at (612) 337-6126 for a free consultation.

Health officials in North Carolina said they have a leading suspect for the Legionella bacteria that infected at least 116 Mountain State Fair attendees with Legionnaires’ disease: hot tubs on display at the Davis Events Center.

“We do have indication from our epidemiological study … that having walked by the hot tubs is linked to Legionnaires’ disease,” said state epidemiologist Dr. Zack Moore, referring to a space at the WNC Agricultural Center in Fletcher.

Moore also said that patients who have developed Legionnaires’ disease are more likely to have visited the fair during the “latter half” of its run from Sept. 6-15.

State Fair hot tubs: two vendors

There were two vendors with hot tub displays at the Davis Events Center, and samples from one hot tub are being processed. The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) hasn’t been able to sample other hot tubs that were on display.

“If the hot tubs had been drained, or drained and disinfected, it’s possible that we would not pick up any Legionella, even if it had been present during the fair,” Moore said. “Legionella has to be in water to survive.”

Moore said samples were taken from several spots in the space, but only one was positive for Legionella – a sample from a “low-traffic” women’s bathroom. One sink could not have been the source of the outbreak, Moore said, because sinks don’t produce significant aerosolized water, and a majority of the patients are men.

Ronnie Goode said he wanted to make some extra cash, so he got a job at the Mountain State Fair. Unfortunately for him, he also picked up a potentially serious illness.

Goode, who lives in Canton, didn’t even enter the Davis Events Center.

“We rode around and picked up trash,” he told WLOS-TV. “Kept (the fair) nice and clean.”

About five days after his final shift at the fair, he said experienced severe chest pains.

“The best description was it felt like a heart attack,” Goode said.

Days later, he became one of the 116 confirmed cases of Legionnaires’ disease.

State Fair hot tubs: 80 hospitalized

The statistics on the outbreak, as compiled by the NCDHHS:

  • Eight victims developed Pontiac fever, a milder form of legionellosis that does not affect the lungs. Putting that total together with the number of Legionnaires’ disease illnesses makes the total number of legionellosis cases 124. (Legionellosis is the umbrella term for diseases caused by Legionella.)
  • Seventy-two victims are male (58 percent); 50 are female (40 percent). (The NCDHHS said some cases were reported without a gender.)
  • The age range of those infected is 24 to 91; the median age is 61. (People older than 50 are particularly susceptible to Legionella.)
  • Eighty people (65 percent) have been hospitalized.
  • One victim passed away.
  • There are seven out-of-state cases, all residents of South Carolina.

State Fair hot tubs: high risk

Legionnaires’ disease (also: Legionella pneumonia) is contracted by inhaling microscopic aerosolized water droplets (vapor or mist). Because many symptoms are similar to those of flu or pneumonia, the illness often is overlooked or undiagnosed, leading to it being underreported, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

People 50 years old and older – especially smokers or those with a chronic lung condition, such as COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder, most commonly bronchitis and emphysema) – are more susceptible to developing Legionnaires’ disease. Other high-risk people include:

  • anyone with a compromised immune system
  • organ-transplant recipients
  • anyone on a specific drug protocol (for example, corticosteroids)
  • alcoholics.
State Fair hot tubs: symptoms

Legionnaires’ disease symptoms generally develop within 10 days after one has been exposed to Legionella. Symptoms generally begin with:

  • headaches
  • muscle aches
  • fever, which can top 104 degrees Fahrenheit, and chills.

After the second or third day, symptoms usually worsen to include:

  • coughing, which can produce mucus and blood
  • dyspnea (shortness of breath)
  • chest pains (pleuritic chest pains, pleurisy, or pleuritis)
  • gastrointestinal problems (diarrhea, nausea, vomiting)
  • confusion and other mental changes.

Legionnaires’ disease cannot be caught from someone else, and it is treatable with antibiotics if diagnosed early. If that doesn’t happen, however, the disease can lead to severe complications, including respiratory failure, kidney failure, and septic shock.