HENDERSON COUNTY, N.C. (WSPA) – We’ve learned more about the recent Legionnaires’ outbreak, and its potential source, after many cases were linked to the North Carolina Mountain State Fair.
7 News spoke with health experts in Henderson County, where they’ve seen dozens of cases of the infectious disease.
“They’re generally tied to maybe a single building, a hotel or something along those lines,” Crystal O’Dell with the Henderson County Health Department said. “The fact that this was at the Mountain State Fair, with large attendance, makes it a rare event.”
Health officials told 7 News they were shocked by the amount of people who contracted Legionnaires’ Disease after attending the North Carolina Mountain State Fair in Fletcher, NC.
More than 80 cases have been confirmed, with 35 being in Buncombe County and 29 being in Henderson County.
“We are hoping to see it start to die down, as we are getting close to the end of the incubation period,” O’Dell said.
Crystal O’Dell told 7 News most people probably would’ve noticed the disease’s symptoms 2-14 days after the fair. Monday marked the 15th day.
“High fever, cough, symptoms of pneumonia,” she said.
Health officials said Legionnaires’ typically comes from breathing in mists or vapors from an aerosolized water source.
Officials have visited the Western North Carolina Agricultural Center and determined there are currently no significant sources of aerosolized water there, but that doesn’t mean there weren’t before.
“They are continuing to investigate any sources that were at the fair that are now gone from the Ag Center,” O’Dell said.
O’Dell told 7 News potential sources for the outbreak could’ve been cooling systems or even hot tubs.
“I think there was a hot tub exhibition, and then, of course, there were HVAC units,” she said. “I understand there was also a ride that sprayed water into people’s face.”
Now, healthcare providers are asking patients a list of questions to help determine the cause of the outbreak.
“If you were ill and you attended the fair, what rides did you go to? What areas of the fair did you go to? Did you go to a specific exhibit?”
Health officials are also asking any and everyone who attended the fair to take a survey.