State and county health officials have pinpointed the Governor’s mansion as a potential site where people may’ve contracted a respiratory illness called "histoplasmosis".
State Epidemiologist, Patricia Quinlisk, says there are two things that could lead to people catching the illness. She says the soil has to be enriched by "lots and lots of bird droppings" and then the soil has to be disturbed so there is lots of dust in the air. Quinlisk says the same exposure could come from soil mix with bat droppings.
Quinlisk says they had "several" cases of histoplasmosis turn up and there was one common link. Quinlisk says it looks like the only time that all of the exposed people were together was on the night of November 29th at Terrace Hill. She says around 90% of the people who’re exposed to the infected dust never end up getting the illness.
Quinlisk says unfortunately every once in a while someone get quite sick with this disease. She says it’s usually a pulmonary or lung disease including a dry cough, chest pains, fever, headache and a tired feeling. "It’s somewhat rare, but it can happen," Quinlisk says.
Quinlisk says they aren’t sure exactly why the Terrace Hill governor’s mansion is the focal point of the problem. She says they’re still investigating to try and find out what was going on at the mansion to see if there was landscaping or construction that may’ve raised the dust. Quinlisk says they’ll interview people who were at the mansion that day to piece it all together.
Quinlisk says anyone who may’ve been at the mansion that day should call 866-923-1089 to answer some screening questions. The doctor says it’s unlikely that you would encounter any problems if you had been in the nearby gift shop, or walking by on the street.
Quinlisk says you usually have to be very close to the dust, and you won’t be exposed unless you see a big dust cloud coming towards you. Governor Culver’s press secretary issued a statement saying, "The Governor and First Lady have been briefed on the situation and are confident that health officials are acting swiftly and appropriately."