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4th fatality connected by officials to Legionnaires’ at WNC Ag Ctr.
Sunday, 03 November 2019 13:44

From Staff Reports

FLETCHER — “A fourth person has died after contracting Legionnaires’ disease, a severe bacterial respiratory infection, at the N.C. Mountain State Fair in Fletcher, according to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services,” the Asheville Citizen Times reported on Oct. 18.

The fair, billed as “the official ‘state fair’ of the western part of North Carolina, was held Sept. 6-15 at the WNC Ag Center in Fletcher.

“NCDHHS declined to provide additional information about the most recent death, including the person’s age, sex and home county, and declined to share how many patients remain in critical condition,” the ACT noted.

Meanwhile, Asheville television station WLOS (News 13) reported that. as of Oct. 18, there were 141 confirmed cases of Legionnaires’ associated with the N.C. Mountain State Fair, citing dating from the NCHHS website. “Of those cases, 49 are in Buncombe County. The website does not provide any details about the latest victim,” a WLOS storuy stated.

Further, the TV station reported, “According to the report, health officials on Sept. 23 began developing a list of aerosolized water sources to which fair attendees might have been exposed and identifying possible sources of ongoing exposure. Sources identified included hot tubs and diffusers that had been on display in the Davis Event Center and a cooling fan that had been outside the Davis Event Center during the fair.

“The DPH visited the WNC Ag Center on Sept. 25-27 with staff from the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, the Buncombe County Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to identify any sources of aerosolized water and collect environmental samples, the report said. Environmental samples were also collected from hot tubs that had been on display during the fair and from the cooling fan that had been at the fair. All samples were submitted to CDC for testing.

“The report said one water sample collected from the women’s restroom in the Davis Event Center tested positive for Legionella pneumophila. All other samples collected from the WNC Ag Center (six samples, including the one positive), from the cooling fan (five samples) and from hot tubs that were on display during the fair (16 samples) tested negative for Legionella.

After testing, the report said,“It is important to note that environmental samples were not collected until between 12 and 22 days after the end of the Mountain State Fair and might not represent conditions during the fair.

The report also stated, “Preliminary testing indicates that Legionella pneumophila isolates found in the one positive environmental sample were genetically different from the Legionella pneumophila found in clinical samples from patients who were part of the outbreak.” Testing is ongoing, officials said.

The Citizen Times noted that, “on Oct. 17, public officials announced that a single case of Legionnaires’ has been linked to the Asheville Quilt Show, which was held at the Davis Event Center at the WNC Ag Center. The Davis Event Center, thought to be the epicenter of the Legionnaires’ outbreak, had been declared safe by Department of Agriculture employees before the quilt show but was closed before a gun and knife show out of ‘an abundance of caution, Ag Center director Matt Buchanan said.”



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