Water may be necessary for living but it can also give you a disease that is running rampant through Michigan.


The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is reminding residents to be aware of legionellosis, which is a respiratory infection caused by Legionella bacteria.

Michigan.gov shared the recent cases.

"In 2023, 186 confirmed legionellosis cases have been reported in Michigan through the end of July, compared to 196 cases in 2022. This year’s cases are lower than the previous five-year (2018-2022) average of 234 confirmed legionellosis cases for the same time period of January through July."

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How Can You Get It?

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Legionellosis can present itself as Legionnaires' disease or Pontiac fever.

"Transmission of Legionella bacteria to people primarily occurs when water mist or vapor containing the bacteria is inhaled. Less commonly, people with difficulty swallowing can get sick if water containing the bacteria accidentally goes into the lungs while they are drinking. Legionellosis does not generally spread person to person. Risk factors for exposure to Legionella bacteria include:

  • Recent travel with an overnight stay.
  • Recent stay in a health care facility.
  • Exposure to hot tubs or whirlpool spas.
  • Exposure to settings where the plumbing has had recent repairs or maintenance work."


WHO says that if you get Legionnaire's, you could feel like you have the flu for 2 to 5 days.


If it is bad enough, you could run a fever, have chills, a dry cough, muscle pains, feel really weak, and have headaches.

Legionnaire's is rarely fatal and can be treated by antibiotics, however, there are a certain group of people that have a higher risk of getting sick.

  • People over the age of 50
  • Current or former smokers
  • People with chronic lung disease
  • People with weakened immune systems from disease or certain medicines
  • People with chronic health conditions such as cancer, diabetes, or liver or kidney failure

Quick! Sniff Your Water!

Thankfully legionella does not spread person-to-person. However, it can be transferred through the water supply in places like hotels, cruise ships, and hospitals.

It can also spread from aerosols like humidifiers and air conditioner cooling towers. Legionella can also live in the soil too.

"The most common form of transmission of Legionella is inhalation of contaminated aerosols from contaminated water. Sources of aerosols that have bene linked with transmission of Legionella include air conditioning cooling towers, hot and cold water systems, humidifiers and whirlpool spas."

If you smell a rotten egg smell or something like sulfur in your water, there is a potential that there is legionella contamination.

As of now, WHO says that there is no vaccine for Legionnaire's so you must simply be mindful as you are traveling or sharing water with other people.

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