DHEC investigating cluster of Legionnaires’ disease in Darlington County

(Francis Chandler/CDC via AP)
(Francis Chandler/CDC via AP)(Francis Chandler | AP)
Published: Nov. 23, 2022 at 10:11 AM EST
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DARLINGTON COUNTY, S.C. (WMBF) – The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control is investigating a cluster of Legionnaires’ disease cases in Darlington County.

Legionnaires’ disease is a pneumonia caused by the bacteria Legionella. The symptoms include fever, chills, cough, shortness of breath and muscle aches. People can get sick from the bacteria by breathing in small particles of water containing the bacteria. The disease cannot be spread from person to person.

“The risk of Legionnaires’ disease among residents of Darlington is low,” said Dr. Abdoulaye Diedhiou, director of DHEC’s Division of Acute Disease Epidemiology. “Most people exposed to Legionella do not develop Legionnaires’ disease.”

DHEC said 13 people have been identified as part of the cluster.

The agency is trying to determine the source of the disease in the community. Water from cooling towers, hot tubs, misters, decorative fountains and plumbing systems are possible sources of the infection.

People concerned about their risk of Legionnaires’ disease can protect themselves by avoiding breathing in water mists from human-made water systems.

People over the age of 50, especially those who smoke cigarettes and have weakened immune systems, chronic lung disease or other chronic health conditions, are at increased risk of the disease. Those at a higher risk should seek medical care early if they have symptoms associated with Legionnaires’ disease.