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Health Officials Probe Rise in Reports of Legionnaires' Disease

December 13, 1997

Health officials are investigating an increase in reports of Legionnaires' disease in Los Angeles County, especially in the Westside and South Bay, a county doctor said Friday.

Dr. James Haughton of the Department of Health Services said seven of the reported cases were in Culver City.

Twenty-six reported cases were confirmed this year, more than double last year's count of 12 confirmed reported cases, he said.

"But there may be more cases that we don't know about," Haughton said.

The disease is often associated with high fever, headache, decreased appetite, cough and shortness of breath, Haughton said. The illness can be effectively treated with antibiotics, especially when diagnosed early.

Most cases occur in those suffering from such ailments as heart and lung disease or weakened immune systems or those who smoke.

The disease is caused by a bacteria that grows in water, and is transmitted by mist that is inhaled--such as the type of mist that grocery stores use to keep produce fresh. Legionnaires' disease is not contagious, Haughton said.

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