According to a new study in the Journal of Public Health Management Practice, cases of Legionnaires’ disease have more than tripled since 2001.
That study and another published in March also suggested that the latest epidemic may signal an incipient global problem, possibly tied to climate change. “Legionnaires’ disease should now be added to the IPCC’s list of important climate sensitive health issues,” Japanese researcher Ryota Sakamoto argued in a recent paper published by the World Health Organization.
The IPCC, or Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, has already warned that hotter temperatures and heavier rains could stir up killers from the edges of civilization. That’s recognized to include well-known diseases like dengue fever, West Nile virus, and malaria. Sakamoto believes Legionnaires’ disease deserves the same level of scrutiny.
The number of incidents is certainly on the rise. There were 3,522 cases nationwide in 2009, according to the most recent detailed data from the Centers for Disease Control. That’s more than double the count from a decade earlier. And preliminary data shows a continued spike to 4,548 cases in 2013, the more recent year that numbers are available.