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Duke Fantasy Basketball Campers Exposed To Bacteria That Causes Legionnaires Disease

Cameron Indoor Stadium, Duke University
Cameron Indoor Stadium, Duke University

Duke University officials say that more than 80 people are being treated for an illness after having been exposed to the bacteria that causes Legionnaires disease.

The outbreak occurred among adults who attended a basketball fantasy camp called “The K Academy” earlier this month.

Participants paid $12,500 per-person to attend a weeklong camp from Aug. 11 to 15, where they met and were coached by Mike Krzyzewski and former Duke basketball players.

According to the CDC, Legionnaires disease is a "typical pneumonia caused by any species of Legionella bacteria." Most people can catch the disease by inhaling the bacteria from water or soil. Symptoms include cough, shortness of breath, high fever, muscle pains and headaches.

84 of the attendees are now reporting fever, muscle fatigue, nausea and respiratory distress.

Duke infectious disease specialists worked with federal, state and local public health officials to identify the source of the exposure, according to a university statement, and traced the source of the Legionella bacteria to a training room in the Schwartz-Butters Building on campus. That room is now closed, and Duke says no other spaces in the Schwartz-Butters Building were affected, and there is no continuing risk to employees or visitors.

The university says no students or student-athletes were exposed.

Legionella is not contagious. All of those who are affected are expected to fully recover.

This was the 18th year of the K Academy, which bills itself as “America’s No. 1 Basketball Fantasy Camp.” Participation is open to adults 35 years or older.

WUNC Digital Producer Mitchell Northam contributed to this report.

Copyright 2021 North Carolina Public Radio

Dave DeWitt is WUNC's Feature News Editor. As an editor, reporter, and producer he's covered politics, environment, education, sports, and a wide range of other topics.