ORONO – The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention is continuing to investigate the six Legionella cases in our area. Officials from the Maine CDC say that number is higher than usual and have even found levels of the bacteria in the Orono-Veazie Water District.
It’s not uncommon to head to the kitchen sink for water on a hot summer day. Some residents in the Orono-Veazie region may be wondering if their water is safe.
“Well there’s many species of Legionella, but the one we’re concerned about is a common bacterial species that is ubiquitous in water,” said Northern Light EMMC Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. Robert Pinsky.
The Legionella bacteria can cause Legionnaires’ disease, which according to theCDC’s website is a serious form of pneumonia. Dr. Pinsky says the bacteria is usually in natural water supplies, but can form in plumbing and HVAC systems, hot tubs and other human-made devices. However, he says the bacteria isn’t as infectious as some think.
“It’s not passed person to person,” Dr. Pinsky said. “It’s really exposure to unusually high levels in a water source and most typically presumably an individuals own water supply at home.”
Dr. Pinsky doesn’t think people should be too concerned.
“We see Legionella cases every year in Maine,” he said.
The recent increase in cases near the Bangor region have officials with Maine CDC wondering if there’s a common exposure issue going on. Dr. Pinsky says it’s hard to say.
“Maine CDC has been really proactive in investigating this and looking for any other potential common sources and really haven’t found any so it’s certainly possible but inconclusive,” said Dr. Pinsky.
In the meantime, officials from the Orono-Veazie Water District say they’ve increased chlorine levels in the water and that it’s safe to drink and use.