Legionella Linked to Most Drinking Water-Associated Outbreaks

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Sixty-three percent of the outbreaks, 94% of hospitalizations, and all deaths were due to Legionella.
Sixty-three percent of the outbreaks, 94% of hospitalizations, and all deaths were due to Legionella.

HealthDay News — Most drinking water-associated waterborne disease outbreaks and waterborne disease outbreaks associated with environmental or undetermined exposure to water are due to Legionella, according to two studies published in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Katharine M. Benedict, DVM, PhD, from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and colleagues analyzed outbreaks reported to the CDC Waterborne Disease and Outbreak Surveillance System as of December 31, 2015. The researchers found that 42 drinking water-associated outbreaks were reported during 2013-2014, accounting for at least 1006 cases of illness, 124 hospitalizations, and 13 deaths. Fifty-seven percent of these outbreaks and all the deaths were associated with Legionella. Sixty-nine percent of the reported illnesses occurred during 4 outbreaks, which involved a chemical or toxin and the parasite Cryptosporidium.

R. Paul McClung, MD, from the CDC, and colleagues examined waterborne disease outbreaks in the United States caused by environmental exposure to water or an undetermined exposure to water. The researchers found that 15 outbreaks associated with an environmental exposure to water and 12 outbreaks associated with an undetermined exposure to water were reported during 2013-2014; these resulted in at least 289 cases of illness, 108 hospitalizations, and 17 deaths. Sixty-three percent of the outbreaks, 94% of hospitalizations, and all deaths were due to Legionella.

"Water management programs can effectively prevent outbreaks caused by environmental exposure to water from human-made water systems, while proper point-of-use treatment of water can prevent outbreaks caused by ingestion of water from natural water systems," McClung and colleagues write.

References

  1. Benedict KM, Reses H, Vigar M, et al. Surveillance for waterborne disease outbreaks associated with drinking water — United States, 2013–2014. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2017;66:1216–1221.
  2. McClung RP, Roth DM, Vigar M, et al. Waterborne disease outbreaks associated with environmental and undetermined exposures to water — United States, 2013–2014. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2017;66:1222–1225.
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