IHTA Addresses North Carolina Legionnaires Outbreak
This fall there was an outbreak of illnesses from legionella after people attended the NC Mountain State Fair in Fletcher, North Carolina. Four people died and 96 were hospitalized with Legionnaire’s disease and fingers quickly pointed to a hot tub display as the potential cause.
contacted CDC immediately after news started coming out about North Carolina,”
says Cindi Magray, chair of the IHTA leadership committee.
disease is a type of pneumonia that is typically contracted after someone
breathes in water vapor that contains legionella bacteria.
The IHTA awaited the results of the local health department and
CDC’s investigation into the cause. Unfortunately, when the report came out it
was inconclusive. No hot tubs tested positive for legionella, though they had
been drained and cleaned by the time they were examined. Though there was a
positive test from a women’s bathroom it was a different legionella strain than
the one that sickened those who attended the event. Despite the lack of
evidence, the report said that hot tubs were the likely culprit.
unfortunate that there couldn’t have been some conclusive result from the
report,” Hatfield says. “From
the industry’s point of view though, there was never a positive test on the hot
tubs that were displayed. So to say it’s probably the hot tubs, we don’t feel
like you can come to that conclusion.”
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In light of the tragedy, the IHTA and PHTA are reminding the public
and industry of best practices for water care at events. The CDC released its
guidelines for water care in the fall, and in conjunction with the CDC, the
IHTA/PHTA put together guidelines for hot tubs on public display. These
guidelines include establishing the free chlorine (2–4 ppm) or bromine levels
(4–6 ppm) after the initial fill at least four hours before being accessed by
the public. The PHTA also recommends maintaining accurate records of
disinfectant and pH measurements and maintenance activities (a template will be
made available on PHTA.org). Records should include: Date and time; pH level;
sanitizer level; any adjustments made.