Case of Legionnaires' disease confirmed in metro area - KCTV5

Case of Legionnaires' disease confirmed in metro area

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The rare type of pneumonia caused by Legionella bacteria does not spread from person to person, but there is concern about how it spreads. (File) The rare type of pneumonia caused by Legionella bacteria does not spread from person to person, but there is concern about how it spreads. (File)
CLAYCOMO, MO (KCTV) -

A case of Legionnaires Disease has been confirmed in the Kansas City metro area and the Clay County Public Health Center is still investigating. 

Family members told KCTV5 the woman has been in a medically induced coma for two weeks and underwent surgery Tuesday at Liberty Hospital. 

The rare type of pneumonia caused by the Legionella bacterium does not spread through person-to-person contact, but there is concern about how it spreads.

"What we most often talk about is say some sort of a water distribution system that is in bigger buildings," said Dr. Raghu Adiga, an infectious disease doctor at Liberty Hospital. "Typically, stagnant water where it is not treated good enough so the bacteria is growing and there is some sort of aerosolization so that you get exposed to it."

Usually, while many people may be in contact with the bacteria, only those with weak immune systems generally get sick.

The woman's family believes she may have contracted the disease while working at the Ford Plant in Claycomo. 

Liberty Hospital said patients, visitors, and staff at the hospital are in no danger of contracting Legionnaires' disease from the patients being treated there. 

KCTV5 contacted Ford, which released this statement: “We regularly test for Legionella out of an abundance of caution for our employees. All test results have been negative throughout the entire year.”

The Clay County Public Health Center said on Thursday that the disease didn't necessarily originate at Ford and that they are not doing any testing at that facility during their investigation. 

The center said that any testing happening at Ford would be done by the company itself and that it's unlikely that every employee is being tested for the disease.

“Normally people do not get tested unless they have pneumonia-like symptoms," said Darrell Meinke with the public health center. "So, that’s not something that would show up unless you had those type of symptoms, also were infected by Legionella. So, it’s very specific, on an individual basis.”

Previously, the center noted that the disease can originate anywhere in the community and said that they will be looking at all possibilities during their investigation.

Ford released a statement on Thursday: "We are conducting our regularly-scheduled fourth quarter testing. We regularly test for legionella out of an abundance of caution for our employees. All test results have been negative throughout the entire year."

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