Family warns of symptoms after Cherokee Co. man diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease

South Carolina News

CHEROKEE Co., S.C. (WSPA) – A Cherokee County man is in critical condition at a hospital in Gaffney after he went to the N.C. Mountain State Fair.

The man’s family spoke with 7News in hopes of helping others who may be seeing the same symptoms.

Wilburn Womick is known for always being on the go and his family said he hardly ever gets sick.

“He loves to dance. He goes dancing two or three days a week,” his son Larry Womick said. “He’s a beekeeper. He loves bees.”

“He’s at the senior’s center everyday at 12:00 to eat with his friends,” his daughter Carolyn Boheler added.

When he slowed down this past weekend and wasn’t feeling well, it concerned his family.

Family members took Womick to the doctor. They thought he had a stomach bug, but then he collapsed. They then took him to the hospital where they found out he was septic.

“I was very scared,” Larry Womick said.

“I thought he was dying,” Boheler said.

Family members told 7 News doctors diagnosed him with Legionnaires’ Disease, which is an infection that was recently tied to the North Carolina Mountain State Fair.

Wilburn’s family said he goes to the fair every year, and he went just two weeks ago.

“He likes to see the farm stuff. The cows and how the honey is,” Larry Womick said.

It’s unclear exactly how Wilburn got sick, but according to the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control, Legionnaires’ Disease typically comes from breathing in mist from a water source.

“My other brother took him to this fair and he said there was a sudden downpour of rain, and everybody gathered under a tent. And he suspects this is where it came from. The gathering of people with the rain coming down and bouncing back up in their face,” Boheler said.

As Womick remains intubated, his family has a message for others.

“If you think you’re a little sick, you need to go get a test, at the very least,” Boheler said. “This is a very serious condition and it can take you down fast—especially, from what I was reading, if you’re over 50.”

“My dad wouldn’t want to see anybody suffer,” Larry Womick said. “He’s the kind of person that loves people. And he wants people to take care of themselves.”

The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control said 46 cases of Legionnaires’ disease have been reported in South Carolina so far this year.

According to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, several counties have reported cases in North Carolina, and at least one person died from Legionnaires’ Disease.

Henderson County officials report 13 cases of Legoinnaires’ Disease, Buncombe County has reported 15 and there has been at least one in Haywood County.

NCDHHS said all of the patients attended the N.C. Mountain State Fair.

Anyone who attended the fair and has been feeling sick should go to the doctor to be checked out.

The most common symptoms include coughing, shortness of breath, fever, muscle aches and headaches.

Click here to learn more about the disease.

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