4th fatality reported in North Carolina Legionnaires' outbreak linked to hot tubs

Within a day, North Carolina officials confirmed the fourth death in the state from Legionnaires' disease and a lawsuit was filed that claims hot tubs at a state fair are to blame for the outbreak affecting more than 100 people, according to The Charlotte Observer

As of Oct. 21, health officials confirmed the fourth death out of 142 cases of Legionnaires' disease or Pontiac fever, a milder form of the disease, linked to North Carolina Mountain State Fair that took place between Sept. 6 and 15 in Fletcher, N.C. 

In their preliminary findings, state health officials said the majority of those affected by Legionnaires' disease or Pontiac fever walked by hot tubs at Davis Event Center during the later half of the fair. 

One reported case of the disease affected an individual who did not attend the fair but was in the same area for a later event.

A lawsuit filed Oct. 17 claims the disease outbreak is due to the fair's poorly maintained water system and hot tub displays. The plaintiff, Jimmy Thomas, is a North Carolina resident who was hospitalized 10 days after visiting the Davis Center at the fair. Mr. Thomas filed suit against two hot tub companies who had displays at the fair — All Pro Billiards and Spa in Asheville, N.C., and Soft Fun, under the name SCM Relaxation, in Myrtle Beach, S.C. Neither company responded to The Charlotte Observer with comment.

Mr. Thomas' attorney, Fred Pritzker, said he has 20 other clients who were also infected after the fair, according to The Charlotte Observer. Mr. Pritzker said the state-run agriculture center isn't a defendant because the complaint would've had to go through an administrative process, but the hot tub companies could bring the state in as a third-party defendant.

Hot tubs that aren't disinfected properly are suitable environments for Legionella bacteria, the CDC reports. However, filters and chlorine treatment can prevent bacteria growth.

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