Three Hospitalized, One Dead in Napa County Legionnaires' Outbreak

Napa County health officials have launched an investigation into an outbreak of Legionnaires' disease that has sickened a dozen people since July 11, leading to three hospitalizations and one death. The probe has already yielded "high levels" of the Legionella in a sample taken from a cooling tower at Embassy Suites Napa Valley. None of the 12 patients had stayed at the hotel, however, and the search for sources continues.

“Finding Legionella in one water sample is an important piece of the puzzle, but we must continue to investigate other cooling towers and water sources in the outbreak area, as it is common to find more than one source,” said Napa County health officer Dr. Karen Relucio.

Legionnaires' disease is a potentially fatal type of pneumonia caused by Legionella bacteria. It is usually contracted through inhalation of a contaminated water source, such as mist from a hot tub or shower. Symptoms include cough, fever, chills, shortness of breath, muscle aches, headaches, and diarrhea.

People over the age of 50, smokers, and sufferers of chronic lung disease or compromised immune systems are most at risk of severe illness. Napa health officials say the person who recently died in the Napa County outbreak was older and had risk factors for "severe disease.”