In the last month, three cases of Legionnaires’ disease were found in Marlborough, which is two more than the number of cases that were reported in the region all of last year.
The disease does not spread by human contact but is instead spread through inhalation of a mist that contains the Legionella bacteria. According to Ed Kiddle, Nelson Marlborough Medical Officer of Health, none of the three patients were in contact with potting mix, which is the most common place this type of bacteria is found. Because of this, experts are researching other possible sources of the bacteria, such as towers used for cooling water.
According to Kiddle, even though water cooling businesses are required to monitor and treat Ligionella, the Public Health Service went ahead and treated a number of different towers throughout the city as a precaution to prevent more cases from popping up.
The health service did this because even though three cases seems like a low number, when there is typically only one case of Legionnaires’ disease per year, three in one month is a serious issue. Those with the highest risk for contracting the disease include people over 50, smokers, and anyone with a suppressed immune system.