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Five cases of legionnaires' disease reported in Brooke County

The Brooke County Health Department has seen an increase in legionnaires’ disease in the area, with five cases reported in the county in just the last few weeks.

The Brooke County Health Department has seen an increase in legionnaires’ disease in the area, with five cases reported in the county in just the last few weeks.

"It’s certainly something that sent up a red flag because typically we don’t have many cases of that,” said Mike Bolen, Brooke County Health Department administrator.

Legionnaires’ disease is rare, with around 20,000 confirmed cases a year. The symptoms of the disease mimic the flu, pneumonia, and the common cold, and can be treated with antibiotics; however, Bolen cautions that it can be very serious.

"In order to contract this bacteria, you have to breathe in the water droplets that have become contaminated, so anything like hot tubs, or air conditioners, things like that are typically causing this,” he said. “In general, it is not transferable from one person to another person.”

The cases in Brooke County have no apparent link, but they were most likely all contracted in December. The patients were treated or are being treated at local hospitals. Bolen said that there is one current case that is life-threatening.

Bolen also pointed out that these cases are considered part of a cluster, not an outbreak. He also noted that the disease is becoming more common.

Surrounding health departments and physicians have been notified of the five cases in Brooke County.

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