North Carolina

First case of Legionnaires’ reported in person who didn’t go to NC fair, officials say

A case of Legionnaires’ disease has been reported in a person who did not attend a North Carolina fair.

The outbreak of the disease is linked to a hot tub display in the Davis Event Center during the North Carolina Mountain State Fair, which took place from Sept. 6 to Sept. 15 in Fletcher, which is near Asheville, The News & Observer reported.

Those diagnosed with the lung disease were much more likely to have reported walking by the hot tub display than those who were not, according to The News & Observer, and Legionella bacteria were found in one water sample taken at the event center.

As of Thursday afternoon, 141 people have become sick with the disease, 95 have been hospitalized and three have died, according to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.

This is the first case reported in someone who did not attend the fair, the department said in a release Thursday.

The person attended a quilt show after the fair ended that was held at the Western North Carolina Agricultural Center, which hosted the fair, the department says. The quilt show was held Sept. 27-29.

Information about the person, including their age and where they are from, has not been released.

“We don’t know how or where this person might have been exposed to the Legionella bacteria,” said Dr. Zack Moore, state epidemiologist in the release. “It is possible that they were exposed at the WNC Ag Center, but Legionella bacteria are very common in the environment so we can’t rule out exposure in another location.”

Health officials went to the agricultural center on Sept. 25 and Sept. 26 and didn’t find “any significant sources of aerosolized water,” the release says.

Rentals of the Davis Event Center were suspended by the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services after the bacteria was found in a water sample, the release says.

“NCDACS recommended and supervised an extensive industrial cleaning of the WNC Ag Center water system,” the release says.

Health officials did follow-up testing of water samples on Oct. 4 and Oct. 7 and did not find any Legionella bacteria, according to the release.

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services has given a breakdown of the number of cases of Legionnaires’ disease by county:

Buncombe County: 50

Burke County: 1

Caswell County: 1

Cherokee County: 1

Gaston County: 1

Granville County: 1

Haywood County: 12

Henderson County: 34

Jackson County: 3

Madison County: 6

McDowell County: 5

Mecklenburg County: 4

Mitchell County: 2

Polk County: 1

Rutherford County: 3

Transylvania County: 3

Union County: 1

Watauga County: 1

Yancey County: 1

Out of State: 10

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Bailey Aldridge is a reporter covering real-time news in North and South Carolina. She has a degree in journalism from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.