Outbreak of Legionnaires Disease in Niagara County

Posted at 6:59 PM, Oct 18, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-18 19:01:46-04

Health officials are warning the public about an outbreak of Legionella, also known as Legionnaires Disease.

Twelve people are being treated for the disease in the county. At least 8 are in the Lockport area. Niagara County Public Health Director, Daniel Stapleton said the infection usually affects people with compromised immune systems. The bacteria is typically found in wet soil, natural, and man-made water sources. But, it's not clear where this outbreak started.

"We've eliminated a lot of sources but we'll continue to do that until we come up with more answers on what cause this," Stapleton said.

The cooling tower at Eastern Niagara Hospital in Lockport recently tested positive for the bacteria. The hospital told us they have re-cleaned and disinfected the tower. County health officials don't believe there is a connection between the 12 cases and the hospital.

"We have some cases in other parts of the county who haven't visited Lockport in the past year," Stapleton said.

Legionella is not uncommon in Western New York. So far this year, Erie County has seen 42 cases, while Niagara County has only had 16.  Antibiotics usually wipe the infection away from the body.

Health officials say the best way to avoid Legionnaires is by getting your annual flu and pneumonia shots.

"Those types of things are made to protect you from many different sources of infections," Niagara County Director of Public Health, Daniel Stapleton said.

Niagara County Health Department and New York State Health Department are currently investigating this situation.