A Major Focus of Legionnaires' Disease in Bloomington, Indiana

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Thirty-nine cases of Legionnaires' disease in a 16-month period were identified in visitors to and residents of Bloomington, Indiana. Thirty-five patients had spent at least one night at the Indiana Memorial Union in the 2 weeks before becoming ill. Five of 32 sporadic cases nationwide between 1 January and 31 March 1978 were retrospectively shown to be in persons who had recently visited the Union. The risk of acquiring Legionnaires' disease as a Union visitor was at least 17 times greater than that for Bloomington residents 20 years or older. Employees who had worked at the Union 5 years or longer were more likely to be seropositive than workers in other Bloomington hotels. Legionnaires' disease bacterium was isolated from five environmental sites in Bloomington. A cooling tower may have been involved in disease spread, but it was not the only source. Hypochlorite solution was added to cooling tower water as a precautionary measure; however, one case was confirmed in a man with Union exposure 9 days after hypochlorite treatment had begun.

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