Update: 10/18 NC health officials report a fourth person has died in the Legionnaires' outbreak linked to the Mountain State Fair in Fletcher. No details about the patient have been released. So far, 141 cases have been confirmed.
Update: 10/17 North Carolina public health officials are reporting the first case of Legionnaires’ disease in a person who did not attend the Mountain State Fair in Fletcher at the WNC Ag Center Sept. 6-15, but did attend the Quilt Show held at the Ag Center Sept. 27–29.
“We don’t know how or where this person might have been exposed to the Legionella bacteria,” said Dr. Zack Moore, State Epidemiologist. “It is possible that they were exposed at the WNC Ag Center, but Legionella bacteria are very common in the environment so we can’t rule out exposure in another location.”
The latest report from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services finds 141 confirmed cases of the respiratory illness. Three people have died and 95 have been hospitalized.
The Legionnaires’ outbreak was announced on September 24, just over a week after the Mountain State Fair ended. State health officials visited the WNC Ag Center on Sept. 25 and 27 and said they did not identify any significant sources of aerosolized water. The Ag Center stated that the Davis Event Center had been declared safe.
In early October, the Ag Center announced it was cancelling a gun and knife show at the Davis Event Center scheduled for October 5-6. A statement on the Center’s website noted that the closure was voluntary and that the building was undergoing an aggressive and comprehensive mitigation plan as a precaution. The Davis Event Center remains closed.
On October 9, health officials announced preliminary findings from the public health outbreak investigation suggest that exposure to Legionella during the Mountain State Fair occurred in the Davis Event Center particularly during the last five days and that confirmed cases reported walking by hot tub displays. Health officials noted that one sample of water collected from the women’s restroom in the Davis Event Center tested positive, but that the bathroom was not heavily trafficked. The report went on to say that environmental samples were also collected from hot tubs that had been on display during the fair and from the cooling fan that had been present at the fair. Testing of these samples is still ongoing at Centers for Disease Control.
The early finds report also noted, “As of October 9, DPH continues to work with local health departments to investigate; no cases have been identified with exposure to the WNC Ag Center since the fair ended.”
Health officials have not released details about when the case linked to the quilt show was confirmed. This story is still developing.