Could Your Air Conditioner Make You Sick?

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The wet, hot summer has made conditions ripe for potentially dangerous bacteria to grow right in your own home.

As the air conditioning units hum away, something could be growing inside them to make you sick. Health officials across the country are warning about Legionnaire’s Disease, which is a rare form of pneumonia. The ailment, also known as Pontiac Fever, comes from a water organism.

The bacteria grow best in warm water like the kind found in hot tubs, cooling towers and decorative fountains. Centers for Disease Control officials said you get the disease by inhaling the bacteria.

Health officials worry the rainy spring and hot summer may lead to more cases of the respiratory illness.

The bacteria can be killed with chemicals but officials said they are concerned the pathogen could get into industrial air conditioners and spew out into the air.

Symptoms include cough, shortness of breath, high fever, muscle aches and headaches. Legionnaire’s disease can be treated with antibiotics.

Earlier this month, 39 people in a retirement community became sick with Legionnaire’s disease. At least six people at the same retirement center died from the outbreak, which affects the elderly the hardest.