Macomb County officials issue warning on rising Legionnaires' disease numbers

By Koco McAboy - Reporter, Dane Sager Kelly - Web Producer

DETROIT - New numbers released by the state show an increase in Legionnaires' disease cases this year.

The numbers come weeks after the diagnoses at Wayne State University and just after a Detroit employee at Delta Air Lines was confirmed to have the disease.

Officials with Macomb County said the numbers are on the rise and the bacteria is in the air, water and soil.

"Legionairres'  disease has been increasing across the United States four to five times more than what we saw in 2000," said Bill Ridella, health officer with Macomb County.

There has been 135 reported cases across the state in 2018 as of Friday, and Macomb County is seeing a major spike   

"We're already at a pace of 24 cases this year, so we'll likely hit that 50 mark, if not surpass it," Ridella said.

Some cases turned deadly. Ridella said there have been three confirmed deaths in Macomb County this year associated with the disease, but they had also other underlying medical conditions.

The bacteria is in our environment and finds success in man-made water systems, especially cooling towers, hot tubs and large air conditioning systems.

Ridella said the recent high temperatures and other factors contribute to the spike in Legionnaires' numbers.

"Our infrastructure is aging, so these older infrastructures need proper maintenance on a regular basis," Ridella said.

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