One person is dead and more than 10 others ill after an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease in Lake County, Ohio. There are a total of 12 confirmed cases.
Some ten cases were confirmed on Wednesday.
Last month, the cooling towers at Consolidated Precision Products in Eastlake, Ohio, were inspected after one person who works there and one each at the two neighboring companies came down with Legionnaires’ disease. One of them, a 54 year old Cuyahoga County man has since died.
“We were notified in early October of three cases that occurred between July, August, and September 2016,” said Lake County Health Commissioner Ron Graham.
According to inspectors, the testing last month revealed positive results for Legionella bacteria, the bacteria that causes the disease. “In this case, it was very clearly a concern over the water cooling towers located at Consolidated Precision Products, I want to be clear that we cannot confirm that any of these cases actually came from that facility,” Graham said.
However, Graham said that Lake County investigators, along with officials with the Ohio Department of Health and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, believe the Legionella bacteria was likely spouted into the air from the cooling towers.
CPP fully cooperated with the investigation, thoroughly cleaning their cooling towers on Nov. 9, Graham said. No bacteria was found during the post-cleaning tests, the results of which were released Wednesday.
Only two of the other Legionnaires’ disease cases can likely be linked to CPP. The additional cases appear to be unrelated to the business, though a definitive link may never be made to bacteria found at CPP because none of the patients were given blood tests that would reveal specific bacteria strains, Graham said.
In a statement, the company said:
“Consolidated Precision Products’ independent test results recently confirmed the presence of elevated levels of the Legionella bacteria in one of the cooling towers at our Eastlake, OH facility. After these tests were taken, the facility’s production and cooling water systems, including the cooling towers, were cleaned and disinfected by an experienced industrial water treatment company in accordance with recommendations and protocols from the Ohio Department of Health. The cleaning and disinfecting activities that we conducted are the recommended course of action to remedy Legionella bacteria growth in cooling towers. No Legionella bacteria was detected in post-cleaning test results. We have kept our employees informed of the activities at the facility and are fully cooperating with the appropriate federal, state and local health agencies.”
Legionella bacteria is transmitted through the air or water, not through person-to-person contact. Not everyone exposed to the bacteria becomes sick, but those who do get Legionnaires’ disease experience symptoms similar to a severe form of pneumonia.