The South Dakota Department of Health is investigating 14 confirmed cases of Legionnaires’ disease that have been reported in Sioux Falls. All 14 cases were hospitalized and 1 died. The patients are between the ages of 36-80 years-old.

South Dakota typically sees between 8 and 15 case reports of Legionnaires’ disease each year. As of Sept. 20, there have been 24 reported cases in 2018. This matches a national increase in cases. The Department of Health interviews the people hospitalized to identify potential exposures and has notified healthcare providers in Sioux Falls of the increase in cases to aid in prompt diagnosis and treatment.

Legionnaires’ disease is a type of pneumonia caused by Legionella bacteria. Most people exposed to the bacteria don’t develop the disease. People over 50, smokers or those with certain medical conditions are at increased risk.

Symptoms include muscle aches, chills, shortness of breath, headache, fatigue, loss of appetite and coughing. These symptoms may be followed by high fever and pneumonia. Individuals experiencing these symptoms should see their healthcare provider.

Legionnaires’ disease is spread by inhaling the fine spray from water sources containing the Legionella bacteria. It is not spread person to person or by drinking water. Cases of Legionnaires’ disease have been associated with cooling towers (part of large air conditioning systems), decorative fountains or hot tubs.


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