Family: Woman Being Treated for Legionnaires’ Disease in Marshall County

GUNTERSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – A Georgia woman is in Marshall Medical Center North being treated for Legionnaires’ Disease.  This, according to the woman’s family.

Rachel Wright’s family says the 36-year-old is in the intensive care unit.  There’s no word yet on how Wright contracted the disease, or where.  There is a Facebook group set up for people to offer support.

The hospital said it could not confirm any information about Wright due to patient confidentiality laws.

Rachel Wright (Photo Courtesy: Family)

Rachel Wright (Photo Courtesy: Family)

WHNT News 19 spoke with Wright’s family on Monday, who praised doctors and nurses at Marshall Medical for the care they are providing.  Doctors say Wright is showing some signs of improvement, although she is currently on a ventilator under sedation.

Wright lives in Georgia but was visiting family in Joppa, Alabama when she became ill.  Her family said she was showing some symptoms before the trip, such as coughing and trouble breathing, but became more sick a few days in to the visit.

Wright also has Crohn’s Disease.  Doctors say the medication she takes for this causes her immune system to weaken, making her more susceptible to other illnesses.

WHNT News 19 spoke with Dr. Mary McIntyre of the Alabama Department of Public Health in Montgomery about the case.  She did not issue specifics about this case, but confirmed Marshall Medical Center North reported a case of Legionnaires’ within the required seven-day period.

About Legionnaires’ disease

According to the Centers for Disease Control, Legionnaires’ disease is caused by a type of bacteria called Legionella, which are found naturally in the environment, usually in water. The bacteria grow best in warm water, like the kind found in hot tubs, cooling towers, hot water tanks and large plumbing systems.

Legionella (Image: Wikipedia)

Legionella (Image: Wikipedia)

People get the bacteria in their system when they breathe in a mist or vapor containing the bacteria.  The CDC said Legionnaire’s Disease is NOT spread from person to person.

Other recent cases

There were 41 cases of Legionnaires’ disease in Alabama in 2013, Dr. McIntyre said, with that being the highest number in the past five years.

So far for 2014, Dr. McIntyre said there have been about 18 cases of Legionnaires’ reported in the state.

Fifteen people caught it in an outbreak at a nursing home in Florence in October 2013. One person died.

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