For the second consecutive year, legionellosis cases in Iowa have outpaced the four-year average. According to the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH), 64 cases were reported in 2018 and 59 have been identified so far this year. Around 34 diagnoses were confirmed per year from 2014 to 2017. Legionellosis, more commonly known as Legionnaires’ disease, is caused by the Legionella bacteria, which can generally be found in natural, freshwater environments at levels considered too low to cause disease. It becomes potentially harmful when it makes its way into an inadequately maintained water system and is then aerosolized by cooling towers, hot tubs, fountains or other similar means. Within two to 14 days after exposure, patients begin to experience symptoms, such as cough, shortness of breath, fever, muscle aches and headaches. In severe cases, Legionellosis patients can develop pneumonia, which can be life threatening. State health officials have not identified a cause for the increase in cases but suggest it may be due to expanded testing. For more information on Legionnaire’s disease, follow the links included with this story on our website.