Legionnaires' outbreak linked to hot tub display at North Carolina fair claims fourth fatality

Elizabeth Anne Brown, Asheville Citizen Times
Davis Event Center at the WNC Agricultural Center in Fletcher

ASHEVILLE, N.C. – A fourth person has died after contracting Legionnaires' disease at a North Carolina fair, state health officials said Friday.

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services declined to provide additional information about the most recent death, including the person's age, sex and home county, and declined to share how many patients remain in critical condition.

The epicenter of the deadly Legionnaires' outbreak was the Mountain State Fair, held Sept. 6-15 at the Western North Carolina Agricultural Center in Fletcher.

As of Friday, 141 cases of Legionnaires' have been confirmed by the health department.

Public health officials have pointed to hot tub displays in the Davis Event Center as the most likely source of the outbreak. As of Thursday, the health department has not announced the results of any samples taken from the hot tubs during the fair.

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On Thursday, public officials announced that a single case of Legionnaires' has been linked to the Asheville Quilt Show, which was held Sept. 27-29 at the Davis Event Center at the WNC Ag Center.

The Davis Event Center had been declared safe by Department of Agriculture employees before the quilt show. But on Oct. 2, the Ag Center canceled a gun and knife show slated to occur at the Davis Event Center Oct. 5-6.

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Matt Buchanan, the director of the Ag Center, said the Department of Agriculture has "voluntarily decided not to rent the Davis Event Center" while it undergoes "an aggressive and comprehensive mitigation plan."

"This is being done out of an abundance of caution and to reassure event attendees, fairgoers and Ag Center employees that the center is safe for occupancy," Buchanan said.

Legionnaires' disease is a life-threatening respiratory infection contracted when tiny droplets of water contaminated with the Legionella bacteria are inhaled.

This article originally appeared on Asheville Citizen Times: Legionnaires' disease outbreak claims fourth victim in North Carolina