At A Glance:

  • Michigan is experiencing a 569% increase in Legionnaires’ Disease.
  • Legionnaires’ Disease is a bacterial pneumonia caused by breathing contaminated water vapor; symptoms similar to COVID-19.
  • There have been numerous outbreaks worldwide without confirmed sources.
  • Many buildings reopening after months of low capacity; low water flow at risk of contaminated air.
  • University of Florida analysis of masks found legionella bacteria.

Michigan is experiencing an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease. The bacterial pneumonia is common in areas where moisture and water vapor could be contaminated. “Transmission to people occurs when mist or vapor containing the bacteria is inhaled. Legionnaires’ disease does not spread person to person.¹ According to Michigan Department of Health and Human Services:

“Between July 1 and July 14, 107 cases of Legionnaires disease have been reported in 25 counties. This represents a 569% increase from referrals from the same period in 2020 (16 cases) and a 161% increase from referrals from the same period in 2019 (41 cases).”¹

At the time of writing, no common cause or source has been linked to the wide-spread uptick in cases.¹

What is Legionnaires’?

A serious form of pneumonia, Legionnaires’ has symptoms that closely resemble COVID including headache, shortness of breath, fever, and muscle aches. Legionnaires’ is a bacterial disease that requires prompt attention.

Legionnaires’ disease is contracted when people inhale the vapor containing the bacteria which causes the disease. According to Mayo Clinic:

“The bacterium Legionella pneumophila is responsible for most cases of Legionnaires’ disease. Outdoors, legionella bacteria survive in soil and water, but rarely cause infections. However, legionella bacteria can multiply in water systems made by humans, such as air conditioners.”²

Recent Concerns Regarding Legionnaires and Outbreaks

In January, an apartment community for seniors experienced an outbreak of 10 cases of Legionnaires’, with one death. While residents were moved to other housing, and significant testing and mitigation was done, no cause could be found. Residents were moved back into their homes, to have two more fall ill with Legionnaires’. With these two additional cases, still no common cause has been found.³

There have been several other cases all over the world, many with no common cause found. Typically, Legionnaires’ is most common during summer-early fall. In Northern Portugal, 88 cases had been confirmed late October 2020-January 2021. Cooling towers were disinfected,  though no cause was confirmed. Fifteen of the cases ended in death.⁴

Israel, Montreal, England, and prisons in the U.S. have all had unconfirmed outbreaks outside of the typical time frame Legionnaires’ would be a concern.

Legionnaires’ and COVID

There are some organizations concerned with the rise of Legionnaires’ while COVID is still on the forefront of medical headlines. 

According to BMC (BioMed Central), a peer-reviewed medical journal:

“Pneumonia is the most common manifestation of both Legionnaires’ disease and COVID-19, and initial presentation for both may include fever, headache, confusion, dyspnea, nausea, and diarrhea. Individual risk factors for both Legionnaires’ disease and severe COVID-19 include older age, diabetes, and chronic lung disease. The incubation period for Legionnaires’ disease is about 5 to 6 days but may range from 2 to 14 days, similar to COVID-19.”⁵

“Because clinical manifestations may be indistinguishable between COVID-19 and Legionnaires’ disease, targeted microbiologic testing for both Legionella and SARS-CoV2 are essential.”⁵

Reopening From Shutdowns and Legionnaires’

With so many buildings having been shut down, lower capacities due to people working or studying from home, there are other concerns. Water has been sitting stagnant in heating and air conditioning systems as well as plumbing. As these buildings reopen, and people begin to go back to the workplace or schools, proper and costly preparations need to be taken to ensure water vapor and air quality is safe.⁶

Hold the Phone — Doc’s Thoughts:

It is clear to see why Legionnaires’ should be considered a concern. It can be a dangerous disease to some people who have a weakened immune system. With the symptoms presenting so much like COVID, it’s easy to see how the mistake in diagnosis could happen without proper testing. 

One thing of concern is that recently the CDC indicated that people who have had COVID vaccinations need not be tested for COVID. Without a negative test, it’s possible to not consider Legionnaires’ and allow the disease to progress. If tests aren’t done properly, misdiagnosis is definitely a concern. 

Recently, a few studies have revealed the potential danger of masks. A group of parents sent masks to the University of Florida to be analyzed. On the masks they found bacteria, fungus, and parasites responsible for many diseases, including Legionnaires’. The kids were breathing in the vapors caused by the condensation of their breath and the pathogens trapped on the mask. Now, if they go back to schools, which have had low capacity with stagnant water and cooling systems with poor air quality and are forced to wear masks, I think the concern is evident!

Let’s look at some of those other cases with “no confirmed links.”⁴ The time of the year does not line up with when cooling systems are used or water is sitting stagnant. Think back to the timing and locations. Masks were heavily mandated at those times and in those locations. Legionnaires’ is caused by breathing in contaminated vapors. The bacteria that causes Legionnaires’ is common in the air, but most people aren’t affected by it when outside in fresh air unless they have a weakened immune system. Inside is a different story with breathing recycled air. If it becomes entrapped in a mask to continue breathing over and over with the vapors and condensation, the risk only multiplies.

With COVID testing guidelines changing for the vaccinated, the WHO suggesting wearing masks, even for the fully vaccinated with the Delta variant being of concern, many businesses and schools planning to open after Labor Day after periods of being shut down, and likely more mask mandates to come, you can see the concern. 

Whether the concern is Legionnaires’ or other pathogens, masks and mandates have become topics of conversation once again. There’s mounting evidence of the ineffectiveness and risk of masks. At The Wellness Way, we always advocate for medical freedoms. It is your responsibility and right to determine which course of action you will take for your family. You must take action for your freedoms, they don’t come passively. On our website, we have legal information you can use to educate yourself and forms to use in workplaces and schools for your children. We believe informed consent is crucial. You need to have all of the information in order to make a decision of consent, either for or against any medical decision.