Plattsburgh health officials diagnose 4 with Legionnaires' disea - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Plattsburgh health officials diagnose 4 with Legionnaires' disease

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Health officials are trying to find the source of a severe illness in Plattsburgh. As Rose Gomez reports at least 4 patients have been hospitalized with Legionnaires' disease.

To some residents in the North Country, pneumonia seems like an all too common sickness that comes with the colder seasons.

"We're so used to the cold, we can literally go out in shorts and we don't mind it, and the next thing you know, we're sick and we don't understand why. It just comes with the territory," said Zachary Smith, Plattsburgh.

But there's a severe form of pneumonia showing up among Plattsburgh city residents and it's got officials on the hunt for answers. In recent weeks, four people living in the same neighborhood on the Western side of the city have been hospitalized with Legionnaires' disease. You get it by breathing in water mist or vapor that contains a bacteria called legionella. 

"Usually it's fever. You just don't feel well. Sometimes difficulty breathing, coughing, and when they do a chest X-ray they do have pneumonia, and the treatment is antibiotics, and most people do recover," said Darwyna Facteau, Clinton County director of health services.

The bacteria is commonly found in the environment, and Clinton County health officials say they see sporadic cases of the sickness every year. Right now they do not think there is a greater risk to the public. 

"City of Plattsburgh's water supply is great. It's fine. It's just legionella can grow at the right temperatures. Hot water tanks, as I said, cooling towers, showerheads, things like that, and it's just it stagnates after a while. Stagnant water's never good for anything. It grows a lot of other bacteria too," said John Kanoza, Clinton County director of environmental health.

Officials have tested the water in the specific neighborhood and surrounding areas to figure out the source, but they say it can take up to 10 days to get the results.

"I want them to find out and get it taken care of. That's everyone around here affects the population," said Smith

The sickness is not contagious from person to person, and it cannot be contracted from drinking water that has legionella. Common sources spreading the disease? Moisture from a shower, air conditioner or hot tub containing the bacteria. 

"And you don't commonly see it in anybody under 30. You see it in older people and people who are immune compromised. They tend to pick up the germ and get sick," said Facteau.

Officials say at least two of the four patients have been released from the hospital.

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