7 cases of Legionnaires Disease are under investigation at McLaren Macomb Hospital

The Macomb County Health Department and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services are investigating possible cases of Legionnaires' disease at McLaren Macomb Hospital, it said in a release Wednesday.

Seven cases of possible health care associated with LD have been reported since late July 2019. Six of the seven cases have been reported since the middle of September 2019. 

The investigation is ongoing as the source has not been identified. McLaren Macomb Hospital said it is cooperating with the investigation. 

MCHD and MDHHS are working closely with the hospital to determine if other patients may have been infected, to identify a potential source of the infection and to address any ongoing risk.

LD is a respiratory infection caused by Legionella bacteria. LD is a severe infection that includes symptoms of fever, cough and radiologic findings consistent with pneumonia. Legionella bacteria are naturally occurring in fresh water sources. 

The organism can multiply in manmade water systems such as cooling towers, decorative fountains, hot tubs and large building plumbing systems.
After Legionella grows and multiplies in a building water system, water containing Legionella can spread in droplets small enough for people to breathe in. People can get LD when they breathe in small droplets of water in the air that contain the bacteria.

Individuals at higher risk for LD include those who are age 50 or older; have a current or past smoking history; or have an underlying illness or condition such as chronic lung disease, kidney or liver failure, diabetes, systemic malignancies, or immune system disorders due to medications or disease. Recent travel and overnight stays in hospitals or other health care facilities can increase an individual's risk for exposure to LD.

Patients with pneumonia should be tested for LD if they have any of the following histories:

  • Have failed outpatient antibiotic treatment for community-acquired pneumonia.
  • Are immunocompromised.
  • Are admitted to the ICU.
  • Traveled within 10 days prior to symptom onset.
  • Were recently hospitalized.
  • Developed pneumonia under 48 hours after hospital admission.

If you are concerned about possible symptoms of pneumonia you should contact your primary care provider. Further information regarding LD is available from the CDC website at Cdc.gov/legionella.