CDC Report Attributes Fatal Case of Legionnaires’ Disease to Home Exposure
In February, CDC released a report of a fatal case of Legionnaires’ disease that occurred in 2018. According to CDC, the incident makes clear that populations at risk for Legionnaires’ disease—such as individuals who are immunocompromised, as this patient was—may be exposed to Legionella bacteria via home water sources. In January 2018, a Wisconsin resident over 70 years of age, who had previously been diagnosed as immunodeficient, was admitted to a local hospital for a rash and fever. The patient also complained of a cough and shortness of breath, which worsened as the patent’s stay continued. The patient was treated with antibiotics but passed away a few days later from cardiopulmonary arrest secondary to septic shock. L. pneumophila was later isolated from a specimen culture taken from the patient’s right lung. In accordance with hospital policy, water sources at the facility were tested for Legionella, but all results came back negative. As the investigation continued, water samples from the patient’s home were taken and tested positive. The Legionella samples from the home matched 99.7 percent of the allele content as those from the patient’s specimen culture. Investigators determined the home was the probable source of infection. The number of reported confirmed Legionnaires’ disease cases increased 4.5-fold nationwide between 2000 and 2015. According to CDC, the Wisconsin case highlights the risk posed by the disease to immunocompromised people, the need to understand the burden and risk from the disease, and the value of testing respiratory tract specimens for both patient treatment and public health investigations.