ST. ALBANS, Vt. (AP) — The Vermont Health Department has confirmed five cases of Legionnaire's disease in Franklin County, including one death, but the source of the infection is unknown, it said Tuesday.
The cases were reported between Aug. 12 and Aug. 29 and appear to be clustered in the St. Albans area, the department said. The death was in a person in their 70s, it said.
The general risk to residents is very low: most healthy people exposed to the bacteria do not get sick, the Health Department said. The disease can be treated with antibiotics.
Legionnaires’ disease is a form of pneumonia caused by Legionella bacteria. Air-conditioning units for large buildings, hot tubs, cooling misters, decorative fountains or plumbing systems are common sources of infection, officials said.
Symptoms, which start two to 14 days after exposure, can include a cough, muscle aches, fever, shortness of breath and headache, the department said. The disease is not contagious and almost never spreads from human to human, the department said.
People with symptoms who live or work in Franklin County are encouraged to contact a health care professional. Those age 50 and older who smoke or formerly smoked, have chronic lung disease, or a weakened immune system are at increased risk of serious illness.
“We are also asking building owners to check their water systems, and make sure they are properly maintained to help prevent Legionella growth and transmission," said Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine.