LEXINGTON, Ky. — Lexington is seeing a rise in cases for Legionnaire’s disease with summer underway, according to the Lexington-Fayette County Health Department.

What You Need To Know

  • The Lexington-Fayette County Health Department attributes a recent spike in Legionnaires' disease to increased pool and hot tub use, paired with recent rainfall

  • The disease is a serious type of pneumonia caused by a bacateria called Legionella

  • About one in 10 people who get sick from the disease will die

  • People most at risk for the disease are people 50 years or older, current or former smokers, people with chronic lung disease and people who have health problems

The health department attributed the recent spike to the use of outdoor pools and hot tubs during summer, paired with the recent rainfall and potential for stagnant water.

“Typically, what you’ll see happen is these pools or hot tubs aren’t cleaned properly so anybody that owns one be sure that you’re cleaning them properly and have the right chlorination levels, temperature levels,” said Kevin Hall, a health department spokesperson.


Hall said currently there are five reported cases of the disease in Lexington/Fayette County. While it’s a small number, he said it’s still an uptick compared to other years.

“Typically, we see zero cases here in Fayette County, so this is very unusual. It’s a very rare thing to happen for a Fayette County resident,” Hall said.

Legionnaires’ disease and Pontiac fever are both caused by bacteria called Legionella. People can get either disease when they breathe in small droplets of water in the air that contain Legionella. The bacteria occur naturally in freshwater environments, like lakes and streams.

Hall said there is nothing to show that Lexington city pools are tied to any of the five cases in the county. Health department officials and parks and recreation staff work hand in hand during pool season to almost prevent any infections completely.

“Any concern with the water, we would take immediate action or if we’re coordinating with the health department for any reason, we would take immediate action. You would notice that onsite but also on our social media channels as well,” said Curtis Mitchell, a pool cleanliness superintendent with Lexington Parks and Recreation.

Mitchell said city pools are cleaned every day before opening and every night before closing.

“We check our chlorine levels every hour, which we are above minimum standard on chlorine, so we make sure that’s a big part of our daily checks.”

If you own a pool or spa, Hall says check your chlorine too and to keep water in your home from sitting too long.

“At home, any place that has running water, you want to run it at least once a week. Think about during the winter when you do the slow drip to keep pipes from freezing. Every week just run water through your pipes,” Hall said.

Legionnaires’ is a serious type of pneumonia, officials said. About one in 10 people who get sick from the disease will die. 

According to the health department, the groups most likely to get Legionnaire’s disease are: people 50 years or older, current or former smokers, people with chronic lung disease and people who have health problems or take medicines that lower their body’s ability to fight germs and sickness.

People do not spread Legionnaires’ disease to other people, but it can happen in rare circumstances.

Health departments reported nearly 10,000 cases of Legionnaires’ disease in the U.S. in 2018. However, the Lexington-Fayette County Health Department said the disease likely goes undiagnosed, so the rate may be higher than what is reported.. 


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