Newsworks.org reports that Pennsylvania has seen the highest number of reported Legionnaires’ disease cases this year since 2003, a rise which is being blamed on an unusually rainy summer. Although it is common for cases of Legionnaires’ disease to jump in the summer months, the number of reported cases this year has doubled the annual amount reported in recent years, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Health. A spokesman from the Department of Health suggested that the “heavy rains may have produced conditions for proliferation of legionella bacteria that would translate to increased likelihood of exposure to the bacteria.”
Pennsylvania is not alone, however. According to the article, the New Jersey Health Department has logged 146 cases in 2011 so far, compared with 103 in 2010. Delaware, Ohio, and New York have also witnessed more Legionnaires’ disease cases.
The article goes on to quote Dr. Janet Stout, the director of the Special Pathogens Laboratory in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Dr. Stout noted that a pattern has emerged over several years showing an increase in reported Legionnaires’ disease cases following periods of heavy rain. Since legionella thrive in water, Dr. Stout suggested the possibility that the bacteria capitalize on the influx of nutrients in the water and multiply.