Health officials: Cases of Legionnaires’ disease possibly connected to East Texas State Fair

Fair Official: Water being tested at Harvey Convention Center and fairgrounds

Legionnaires

TYLER, TEXAS (KLTV) - Officials with the NET Health Disease Surveillance Division are investigating seven confirmed cases and five possible cases of Legionnaires’ disease in the Northeast Texas region.

The organization says health officials are working with organizers of the East Texas State Fair to investigate any connections of the cases with attendance at the fair this year.

“When they did the epidemiological research on this, the people who had confirmed cases so far attended the East Texas State Fair," said George Roberts, NET Health Chief Executive Officer. "So that seems to be the common denominator.”

According to Roberts, the disease is a waterborne type of illness and affects 5,000 to 6,000 people in the U.S. each year.

John Sykes, President and CEO of East Texas State Fair, tells KLTV that the fair is working very closely with NET Health to find the source of the disease.

“They are busy testing all water sources both in Harvey Convention Center and also on the fairgrounds to see if we do find any of the Legionella bacteria," Sykes said.

WATCH: NET Health official discusses Legionnaires' cases possibly linked to East Texas State Fair

Read the full statement from the Northeast Texas Public Health District below.

"Seven confirmed cases and five possible cases of Legionnaires’ disease have been identified in the Northeast Texas region. The investigation of these cases is ongoing, as the NET Health Disease Surveillance Division is working with organizers of the East Texas State Fair and local health officials to investigate any connections of these cases with attendance at the East Texas State Fair this year (September 20th - 29th).

Anyone who attended the East Texas State Fair in Tyler during September 2019 and is sick due to symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease is urged to discuss Legionnaires’ disease with your health care provider immediately.

Legionnaires’ disease is caused by Legionella bacteria that can become spread through inhaled water droplets spread through the air. While Legionnaires’ disease is not typically spread person to person, State Health Officials, event organizers, and Local Health Departments are investigating reports and working to identify a source.

Symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease may include cough, high fever, weakness, muscle aches, headaches, and shortness of breath. Legionnaires’ disease is treated with antibiotics, and most people who get sick with this disease may need to be hospitalized but will fully recover.

Also attached to this release is a Health Advisory for doctors, nurses, and medical personnel in northeast Texas.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 1 out of 10 people with Legionnaires’ disease will die from the infection. Most healthy people exposed to Legionella do not become sick but certain populations are at an increased risk for contracting Legionnaires’ Disease. These include:

• Anyone over the age of 50

• Current or former smokers (cigarettes & e-cigs)

• Persons with chronic lung disease like emphysema or COPD

• Persons with weakened immune systems due to a previous disease or from medication

If you live in the Northeast Texas region and have questions about Legionnaires’ disease, please call the Disease Surveillance Division at NET Health at (903) 595-1350."

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