Record number of Legionnaires' cases reported in 2018

A record 9,933 cases of Legionellosis — including both Legionnaires' disease and the milder Pontiac fever — occurred nationwide in 2018, according to CDC data published  Nov. 4. 

This figure represents a dramatic jump from the 6,100 cases reported in 2016 and reflects a more than eight-fold increase over the last two decades. The true tally could be even higher, as Legionnaires' disease is often underreported. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine estimates that up to 70,000 people contract the disease each year.

Hospitals spent $434 million treating Legionnaires' disease in 2012 alone, a number that has likely grown in response to the increase in cases, reports the Chicago Tribune. Flushing out water systems to remove Legionella bacteria further adds to these costs. 

Health experts hypothesize that rising temperatures and longer summers could encourage Legionella growth. The increased popularity of environmentally-friendly buildings may also be contributing to the rise in Legionnaires' cases, as these buildings often hold water at unsafe temperatures. 

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A record 9,933 cases of Legionellosis — including both Legionnaires' disease and the milder Pontiac fever — occurred nationwide in 2018, according to CDC data published Nov. 4.

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