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NAPLES, Italy — Italian health officials notified the U.S. Navy in Naples on Tuesday that an Italian employed by the base has contracted Legionellosis, a bacterial disease that can cause fever, pneumonia, diarrhea, coughing and chills, Navy officials said Wednesday.

Though U.S. officials are not certain the employee contracted the disease from his work space in the Meyer’s (C4I) building at the Naval Support Activity Capodichino base, U.S. and Italian health officials are inspecting maintenance records and taking samples of water used in the building’s air conditioning system, said Navy Dr. (Capt.) Alton Stocks, Naval Forces Europe/6th Fleet force surgeon.

“We’ve examined the maintenance records and found them to be top notch,” Stocks said. The records indicate the water used to cool the building properly was maintained and replaced in order to prevent bacteria from growing.

Legionellosis is acquired through inhalation of aerosolized water contaminated with the Legionella bacteria, and is not spread through person-to-person contact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Web site. Sources of exposure can be contaminated water in the home, hospital, hotels, workplace or aerosol-producing devices in public places.

People at a higher risk of contamination are those with chronic breathing problems, smokers, those older than 65 years of age, or those with weakened immune systems, Stocks said. People with symptoms should consult a physician, as they normally would, he said.

According to the CDC site, Legionellosis is an infection caused by the bacterium Legionella pneumophila. The disease has two distinct forms: Legionnaires’ disease, the more severe form of infection which includes pneumonia, and Pontiac fever, a milder illness.

Legionnaires’ disease acquired its name in 1976 when an outbreak of pneumonia occurred among persons attending a convention of the American Legion in Philadelphia. Pontiac fever is named because of an outbreak in 1968 in Pontiac, Mich.


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