North Carolina

Third person dies from Legionnaires’ outbreak linked to NC fair, officials say

A third person has died from an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease linked to a North Carolina fair.

The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services now lists three deaths on its Legionnaires’ outbreak website as of Monday afternoon.

It’s unclear when the third death was reported and confirmed.

The outbreak is linked to a hot tub display at the North Carolina Mountain State Fair that took place between Sept. 6 and Sept. 15 in Fletcher, which is near Asheville, The News & Observer reported.

Those who were diagnosed with the disease were “much more likely to report having walked by the hot tub displays” that were in the Davis Event Center than those who were not diagnosed, the department found Oct. 3.

Testing found Legionalla bacteria in one water sample at the fair, the department says.

“Taken together, these early findings suggest that low levels of Legionella present were able to grow in hot tubs or possibly some other source in the Davis Event Center leading to exposure through breathing in aerosolized water that contained the bacteria; however, this is an ongoing investigation,” the department said.

As of Monday afternoon, there have been 140 confirmed cases of Legionnaires’, according to the Department, and 94 people have been hospitalized with it.

The family of a man who went into a coma after contracting the disease hired attorneys to help get answers, The News and Observer reported.

Matt Wetherington, one of the attorneys, said in a press conference on Wednesday that they are calling on state agencies to give more information on the outbreak.

“Because this is not just about stopping the disease this is about holding the people responsible accountable,” he said in the press conference.

He also said this is not an unfortunate incident but is “extreme negligence.”

“To allow Legionella to grow to the level that it did at this fair is unconscionable,” he said.

The Department has given a breakdown of the number of cases by county:

Buncombe County: 49

Burke County: 1

Caswell County: 1

Cherokee County: 1

Gaston County: 1

Granville County: 1

Haywood County: 12

Henderson County: 34

Jackson County: 3

Madison County: 6

McDowell County: 5

Mecklenburg County: 4

Mitchell County: 2

Polk County: 1

Rutherford County: 3

Transylvania County: 3

Union County: 1

Watauga County: 1

Yancey County: 1

Out of State: 10

Bailey Aldridge is a reporter covering real-time news in North and South Carolina. She has a degree in journalism from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.