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Genesee County has seen slightly fewer cases of Legionnaires’ disease so far this year, health officials said Wednesday.

Through Tuesday, there were 16 confirmed cases compared to 18 during the same period last year, the Genesee County Health Department said in a statement.

Ten of the confirmed cases involved a visit or stay in a health care setting in the 10 days before the onset of symptoms, according to the release.

Legionnaires' is caused by bacteria that can thrive in buildings with large water systems. Symptoms include shortness of breath, muscle aches, headache and fever. Symptoms usually appear two to 10 days after exposure.

About 20 outbreaks are reported each year, including recent ones at an Atlanta hotel and a hospital near Chicago. An outbreak killed 12 people and sickened dozens of others in Genesee County in 2014-15.

In a report released this month, experts said annual cases of Legionnaires' jumped more than five-fold from 2000 to 2017, and that as many as 70,000 Americans get the disease every year.

County health officials warned Wednesday that while Legionella bacteria growth can occur year-round, "the disease is more common during the summer and early fall because of the ideal environment that warmer temperatures create for bacterial growth in water systems."

Water systems including hot tubs, cooling towers and fountains should be properly monitored and disinfected to ensure bacteria does not spread, the department said.

"If a water system is not managed adequately, Legionella will grow where disinfectant levels are low, water is stagnant or water temperatures are ideal," officials said.

Information on the disease can be found at https://gchd.us/ or https://www.cdc.gov/legionella/

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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