Forensics expert weighs on recent Legionnaires outbreak

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - There has been a recent outbreak of Legionnaires disease in Hawaii. Department of Health officials announced on Tuesday that there have been 4 cases of the potentially fatal form of pneumonia so far. One person has died from it. David Carter, an Associate Professor of Forensic Science and the Director of Forensic Sciences program at Chaminade University appeared on Sunrise to talk more about it.

Carter said that the bacteria can be found in freshwater anywhere in the world. It's a relatively common bacteria. It's related to e.coli and salmonella. It can travel relatively easily through water vapor and mist. The most common way it is spread is in air cooling systems that are used to air condition buildings. He said, it's not common in unit air conditioners but in large cooling towers that are used for bigger buildings, hospitals and cruise ships.

How concerned should we be about these recent cases? Carter said it is serious since 1 out of 10 cases of Legionnaires is fatal. Once the bacteria is transferred in any type of water mist, Carter said that they can travel up to one mile away.

To protect yourself, Carter suggests keeping your household clean particularly in any areas that use water. Faucets, showers and bathrooms should be cleaned regularly to keep the bacteria at bay. Also, make sure to take care of your own health because Legionnaires tends to manifest itself in people with compromised immune systems. It can be cured and most cases are treated with antibiotics said Carter.

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