Williamson County and Cities Health District (WCCHD) officials have confirmed a sixth case of Legionnaires’ disease at the SpringHill Suites by Marriott in Round Rock, TX, a suburb of Austin, according to multiple news reports.

The infected individual was a recent guest of the hotel and is currently hospitalized, according to a WCCHD spokesperson.

Investigators also are studying reports from 20 other hotel guests who were sickened with respiratory illnesses, either during their stay or after they got home. Legionnaires’ disease is often underdiagnosed due to symptoms matching other common illnesses, which is why investigators will take a closer look at each case.

Tests from six water samples from the hotel’s swimming pool and hot tub all contained DNA of the Legionella bacteria, which causes the disease. Five of the individuals diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease either used the pool or hot tub or sat or walked near it, the spokesperson said.

The hotel – located at 2960 Hoppe Trail, just off of Old Settler’s Boulevard and I-35 – was temporarily closed October 4 while experts remediated the facility.

2nd Texas Marriott with Legionnaires’ issues

In August, the Waco-McLennan County Public Health District issued a control order to the Fairfield Inn and Suites by Marriott Waco North in Lacy Lakeview, a suburb of Waco, after a fourth case of Legionnaires’ disease was confirmed at the hotel since October 2016.

In cooperation with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Texas Department of State Health Services, the health district required the Fairfield Inn to implement the following three actions immediately to comply with the control order:

  • Hire a qualified consultant to assist with the development and implementation of a water maintenance plan
  • Maintain water temperature at 140 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Notify all guest of the risks of Legionnaires’ disease.

How does one contract Legionnaires’ disease? 

Legionellosis is a respiratory disease caused by Legionella bacteria. Sometimes the bacteria cause a serious type of pneumonia (lung infection) called Legionnaires’ disease. The bacteria also can cause a less serious infection called Pontiac fever, which has symptoms similar to a mild case of the flu.

Legionella bacteria are contracted by inhaling microscopic water droplets in the form of mist or vapor. The bacteria, which grow best in warm water, are found primarily in human-made environments. Outbreaks have been linked to a range of sources, such as:

  • water systems like those used in hotels, hospitals, and nursing homes
  • hot tubs and whirlpools
  • swimming pools
  • showers and faucets
  • cooling towers in air conditioning systems
  • hot water tanks and heaters
  • large plumbing systems
  • decorative fountains
  • mist machines
  • equipment used in physical therapy.

What are the symptoms of Legionnaires’?

The symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease look like other forms of pneumonia or even the flu, which is why so many cases go unreported every year. Early symptoms can include the following:

  • chills
  • fever (potentially 104 degrees or higher)
  • headaches
  • loss of appetite
  • muscle aches.

After the first few days of the disease presenting, symptoms can worsen to include:

  • chest pain when breathing (called pleuritic chest pain, due to inflamed lungs)
  • confusion and agitation
  • a cough, which may bring up mucus and/or blood
  • diarrhea (about one-third of all cases result in gastrointestinal problems)
  • nausea and vomiting
  • shortness of breath.

The incubation period – the amount of time between breathing in the bacteria and developing symptoms – is usually 2 to 10 days after exposure and can be as much as 16 days.

BUFFALO MEDICAL CENTER FINDS LEGIONELLA IN WATER SUPPLY

ECMC on Sept. 15, 2005. PHOTO/Harry Scull, Jr., Buffalo News

The Erie County Medical Center in Buffalo, NY, found slightly elevated levels of Legionella bacteria in the hospital’s water supply. Testing was ordered after a patient was suspected of being sickened with Legionnaires’ disease, according to news reports.

It’s unclear whether the patient, who was diagnosed in late September, developed the disease at the hospital or whether he was infected before being admitted. He’s in stable condition.

The hospital tested for the bacteria in 12 locations and found slightly elevated levels in three of them, a hospital spokesperson said. “We put the water restrictions in place out of an abundance of caution,” he said.

Other precautions being implemented include filters being installed on faucets, shower heads, and ice machines, as well as the distribution of bottled water throughout the facility.

 

LEGIONELLA FOUND IN MONTANA HOSPITAL’S WATER SUPPLY

St. Patrick Hospital in Missoula, MT, reported positive test results for the Legionella bacteria in mid-September after a patient was diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease, according to multiple news reports.

The patient was not responding to normal antibiotics so additional testing was ordered, and that confirmed the Legionnaires’ diagnosis. The patient’s timeline indicates to hospital personnel that the disease was likely contracted at the hospital.

Tests of the hospital’s water system returned some positive results for the bacteria. Medical-grade water filters are being installed on the water faucets and shower heads to help remedy the situation.

 

OSU’S DRACKETT TOWER CLEAR OF LEGIONELLA

All of the drinking fountains at The Ohio State University’s Drackett Tower are operational again after the water system at the residence hall received an all-clear after test results were negative for Legionella, according to the student newspaper The Lantern.

A majority of the 12-story residence hall had been without working water fountains since before the start of the fall semester after a student was diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease. Showers and sinks were still functioning though, as well as three fountains on the first floor and two in the basement.

During the university’s investigation, officials identified “areas for improved control,” and those were addressed, according to the audit report. The cooling tower water was disinfected, as well as a low-level disinfection of the hot water system, where trace amounts of Legionella were found, although the health department did not recommend such action take place.

 

NEW SOURCE FOR LEGIONNAIRES’ DISEASE IDENTIFIED

Researchers in Spain have identified street-cleaning trucks as a possible source of Legionnaires’ disease after a second individual at the same Barcelona street-cleaning company was sickened with the disease in four years, according to news reports.

Legionella bacteria must be inhaled into the lungs in the form of aerosolized mist to be infectious.

The infections were likely caused by contaminated water tanks aboard the trucks and the release of aerosolized Legionella bacteria through high-pressure water hoses used to clean the streets.

The researchers took samples from four trucks used by the worker prior to becoming ill and found Legionella pneumophila serogroup 1 in both the water and internal foam of two of the trucks.

Workers are now required to wear personal protective equipment during “work-related exposure,” according to the research published in Emerging Infectious Diseases.

Since the discovery of Legionnaires’ disease in 1976, experts have identified asphalt paving machines, windshield wiper fluid, dishwashers and even water births as uncommon sources for the sometimes deadly lung infection.

Update, Oct. 6
A fifth case of Legionnaires’ disease was confirmed on Friday, according to news reports. A fourth guest was taken to the hospital earlier this week, and it was learned that the guest was ill with Legionnaires’ disease.

Original post, Oct. 6
The Williamson County and Cities Health District (WCCHD) has ordered the closure of the SpringHill Suites by Marriott hotel in Round Rock, TX, after three guests and an employee contracted Legionnaires’ disease, multiple news outlets are reporting.

The three guests who were infected with Legionella bacteria, which causes Legionnaires’ disease, were guests at the hotel between June and September. All three have recovered.

All had been in the hotel’s hot tub or sat near the area, and it is believed they breathed in contaminated water in the form of mist created by the hot tub.

The hotel employee, who was diagnosed and hospitalized with the disease Oct. 3, had worked at the facility for only one week but walked through the area where the hot tub is located several times.

Investigators have taken samples from the hotel’s water systems, and test results are expected back within two weeks.

The hotel voluntarily closed at 5 p.m. Oct. 4.

“The hotel anticipates it will remain closed until the remediation can be fully completed and the property clears all inspections,” according to a statement released by SpringHill Suites.

Hotel officials estimate that the remediation process and testing will take approximately three weeks. They said they hope to reopen by the end of October.

“If anybody has stayed at (that location) from mid-September until yesterday (Oct. 4), they need to be on the lookout for pneumonia or flu-like symptoms,” a WCCHD spokesperson said. “If they have those symptoms, they need to seek medical help immediately.”

The four-story extended-stay hotel, located at 2960 Hoppe Trail in a suburb of Austin, is 17 years old and has 104 rooms. The hotel relocated all current guests to nearby hotels and is contacting individuals with existing reservations to assist them in changing their accommodations.

The hot tub area is the likely source of four cases of Legionnaires' disease at SpringHill Suites.
The hot tub area is the likely source of four cases of Legionnaires’ disease at SpringHill Suites.

What is Legionnaires’ disease?

Legionnaires’ disease is a severe type of pneumonia or lung infection. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated 25,000 cases of pneumonia due to Legionella bacteria (Legionella pneumophila) occur in the United States on a yearly basis. However, only 5,000 cases are reported because of the disease’s non-specific signs and symptoms.

Legionella bacteria are contracted by inhaling microscopic water droplets in the form of mist or vapor. The bacteria, which thrive in warm water, are found primarily in human-made environments, such as hot tubs, spas, cooling towers and air-conditioning systems, to name a few.

What are the symptoms?

Legionnaires’ disease is very similar to other types of pneumonia (lung infection), or even the flu, which is why so many cases go unreported every year. Early symptoms may exhibit in the following forms:

  • chills
  • fever
  • headaches
  • loss of appetite
  • muscle aches.

After the first few days, symptoms can worsen and include:

  • chest pain when breathing
  • confusion and agitation
  • a cough, which may bring up mucus and/or blood
  • diarrhea (about one-third of all cases result in gastrointestinal problems)
  • nausea and vomiting
  • shortness of breath.

The incubation period – the amount of time between breathing in the bacteria and developing symptoms – is usually 2 to 10 days after exposure and can be as much as two weeks.

Complications of Legionnaires’ disease

After Legionnaires’ disease has been diagnosed, hospitalization is usually necessary. In the most severe cases, complications can include respiratory failure, kidney failure, septic shock, or even death.

Anyone can get the disease, but those at the greatest risk of infection include:

  • people 50 or older
  • smokers (current or former)
  • heavy drinkers of alcoholic beverages
  • people with chronic lung disease
  • people with weakened immune systems.

Two Legionnaires' disease cases were reported at The Ohio State University.Two individuals on The Ohio State University campus in Columbus have been diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease, according to numerous news reports.

A statement released by university officials said Columbus Public Health (CPH) informed the two – one student and an employee – that they believe there is no connection between the cases.

The source of the Legionella bacteria – which causes Legionnaires’ disease – has not been identified in either case, so it’s uncertain whether the two contracted the disease on campus or somewhere else.

The employee is a Columbus resident who is employed at the university’s Newark campus. The student is a resident of the 12-story Drackett Tower residence hall.

The student identified a water fountain at Drackett Hall as the only public water source he had used. Fountains on one side of the residence hall were temporarily shut down “out of an abundance of caution,” a university spokesperson said. The university stated that water testing was performed in all residence halls over the summer and the results came back clear of any bacteria.

The Ohio State University shut down some water fountains in Drackett Tower after two people became ill with Legionnaires' disease.
One of the Drackett Tower water fountains that was shut down.

While this is not considered an outbreak, since there are no commonalities between the two illnesses, the university said it will continue to investigate with CPH to try to identify possible university-related sources for the bacteria.

CPH says 73 cases of Legionnaires’ disease have been reported in the Columbus and Worthington areas in 2017.

How do you catch Legionnaires’ disease? 

The Legionella bacteria are contracted by inhaling microscopic water droplets in the form of mist or vapor. The bacteria, which grow best in warm water, are found primarily in human-made environments. Outbreaks have been linked to a range of sources, such as:

  • showers and faucets
  • swimming pools
  • hot tubs and whirlpools
  • cooling towers in air conditioning systems
  • decorative fountains
  • mist machines, such as in grocery stores’ produce sections
  • hot water tanks and heaters
  • large plumbing systems

People also can catch Legionnaires’ disease by the aspiration of contaminated drinking water – that is, choking or coughing while drinking, which can cause water to go down the wrong pipe into the lungs.

What are the complications of Legionnaires’ disease?

After Legionnaires’ disease has been diagnosed, hospitalization is often necessary. In the most severe cases of Legionnaires’ disease, complications can include respiratory failure, kidney failure, septic shock, or even death.

Students are less prone to catching Legionnaires’ disease

Anyone can get the disease, but those at the greatest risk of infection include:

  • people 50 years old or older
  • smokers (current or former)
  • heavy drinkers of alcoholic beverages
  • individuals with chronic lung disease
  • people with weakened immune systems
  • organ-transplant recipients.

Even relatively healthy individuals have been known to contract the disease, although less typically.

Parker Towers, 104-60 Queens Boulevard

Two cases of Legionnaires’ disease – including the death of a senior resident at the Parker Towers in the Forest Hills neighborhood of Queens, NY – has the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) investigating the complex, according to numerous news reports.

Both cases occurred between June and September. One person recovered, and the senior who passed away had pre-existing health conditions, which put that person at greater risk.

The DOHMH is working with building management to test the building’s hot water system, which is the likely source for Legionella, the bacteria that causes Legionnaires’ disease. Officials believe the risk is low to tenants because the buildings do not have cooling towers, which has been the culprit in several large Legionnaires’ disease outbreaks in New York City in recent years.

Parker Towers residents at greater risk should take precaution

  • Don’t shower – even a cool shower – since it could create water vapor. Instead, take a bath, filling the tub slowly and minimizing your time in the bathroom while the water is running.
  • Wash dishes, but fill the sink slowly to avoid creating mist.
  • Drink cold water from the tap and start with cold water when heating water for coffee, tea or cooking.
  • Wash your hands.
  • You do not need to wear a mask.

Parkers Towers is a three-building complex built in 1960, standing 20 stories tall with 1,327 units.

A summer of Legionnaires’ in Queens

The Forest Hills outbreak is the fourth in Queens in 2017. The others:

  • Two cases of Legionnaires’ disease occurred at the Latimer Gardens Houses at 34-25 Linden Place within a one-year period. The most recent incident hospitalized a resident in July.
  • In late August, a second case of Legionnaires’ disease was recorded at a Hampton House LLC apartment building in Rego Park. The complex is located at 93-10 Queens Boulevard.
  • In early September, the DOHMH announced that it was monitoring two apartment buildings in the Lindenwood section of Howard Beach after two cases of Legionnaires’ disease occurred within a 10-month period.

Queens not the only summer hot spot in NYC

In June, one person died and another six were hospitalized after contracting Legionnaires’ disease in the Lenox Hill neighborhood on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Also in June, two NYC police officers took ill with Legionnaires’ disease at the 23rd Precinct in Harlem. An infected water system is believed to be responsible for those illnesses.

New York City’s largest outbreak killed 12 in 2015

The largest outbreak in New York City history occurred in 2015. Contaminated cooling towers were blamed for producing Legionnaires’ disease that killed 12 people and sickened more than 120 others in the South Bronx.

Two cases of Legionnaires' disease were reported at SilverCreek on MainTwo residents at an assisted living center in Maple Grove, MN, have been confirmed with Legionnaires’ disease, causing an investigation by the Minnesota Department of Health (MDOH), according to news reports. Both are residents of SilverCreek on Main.

The first person began showing symptoms Aug. 22, while the second started showing Sept. 12. Both were hospitalized and are recovering.

SilverCreek, which has 220 residents, is working in cooperation with the MDOH to identify the source of the Legionella bacteria, which causes Legionnaires’ disease. No definitive source has been located, but signs point to the building’s water system.

“We are in the process of a full environmental assessment,” a statement released by SilverCreek officials said. “Early indications are that the issue is isolated to a small area of the property.”

The HVAC system has been cleaned and the water system is being remediated, according to a MDOH spokesperson.

Residents have been advised to not take showers and to seek alternative sources of water. SilverCreek officials have closed the pool and are providing bottled water for drinking and oral care.

The 200-unit SilverCreek on Main facility opened in 2015 and includes two floors of memory care, two floors of assisted care, and an independent living wing. It is located at 8200 Main Street North.

Comes one year after outbreak in Hopkins, MN

The outbreak is the second in suburban Minneapolis in a year. Last September, 23 illnesses and one death occurred in Hopkins. It took the MDOH several weeks to identify the source of the outbreak. It eventually was traced back to a cooling tower at Citrus Systems juice manufacturing plant in downtown Hopkins. Testing found an exact genetic match between the Legionella bacteria samples from the tower and four of those infected.

Should SilverCreek residents be concerned?

After Legionella grow and multiply in a building’s water system, the contaminated water spreads in droplets small enough to breathe in. When that bacteria reaches the lungs, they can cause people to become ill with Legionnaires’ disease.

Legionella become a health concern when they grow and spread in human-made environments, such as:

  • Showers and faucets
  • Hot tubs that aren’t drained after each use
  • Decorative fountains and water features
  • Hot water tanks and heaters
  • Large plumbing systems
  • Cooling towers (air-conditioning units for large buildings)

Residents or visitors to the SilverCreek on Main facility who are exhibiting pneumonia- or flu-like symptoms should seek immediate medical attention from their primary health-care provider.

Individuals at increased risk

Most healthy people exposed to Legionella do not get sick. However, individuals who meet any of the following criteria are at higher risk:

  • People 50 or older
  • Current or former smokers
  • People with undisclosed illnesses, such as diabetes, kidney failure or liver failure
  • People with weakened immune systems
  • People with chronic lung disease
  • People with cancer

Legionnaires’ symptoms are numerous

Legionnaires’ disease is very similar to other types of pneumonia (lung infection), and symptoms may exhibit in the following forms:

  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fever
  • Muscle aches
  • Headaches

The Onondaga County and New York State Health Departments are teaming up to investigate 19 recent cases of Legionnaires’ disease in Onondaga County, according to WSYR NewsChannel 9. Onondaga County is in the center of New York State and home to the city of Syracuse.

Four of the 19 cases have been linked to the Pacific Health Club in the Town of Salina, located at 604 Old Liverpool Road in Liverpool, NY.

The existence of Legionella bacteria – which causes Legionnaires’ disease – was found during testing of the hot tubs and the pool skimmers at the health club, according to county health officials. The hot tubs were temporarily closed, disinfected and sanitized, as were the skimmers and piping. Follow-up testing was negative for Legionella, and the hot tubs and pool have been reopened.

Pool Skimmer

Pool skimmers, which are the rectangular openings on the sides of underground pools, help keep pool water clean by skimming the surface of the water, where most contaminants dwell, and capture floating debris before it can sink to the pool’s bottom.

The health departments continue to investigate whether there are any commonalities between the other 15 reported cases. No information was released on the condition of the 19 individuals infected with the disease.

About 25,000 cases of Legionnaires’ annually in U.S.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that the U.S. experiences 25,000 annual cases of Legionnaires’ disease, a severe type of pneumonia or lung infection caused by Legionella bacteria (Legionella pneumophila). Only 5,000 cases, however, are reported because of the disease’s non-specific signs and symptoms.

Legionella bacteria are contracted by inhaling microscopic water droplets, usually in the form of mist or vapor. The bacteria thrive in warm water and are found primarily in human-made environments, such as cooling towers, air-conditioning systems, hot tubs, and spas, to name just a few.

Legionnaires’ disease complications can be deadly

Anyone can get the disease, but those at the greatest risk of infection include:

  • people 50 or older
  • smokers (current or former)
  • heavy drinkers of alcoholic beverages
  • people with chronic lung disease
  • people with weakened immune systems.

After Legionnaires’ disease has been diagnosed, hospitalization is often necessary. In the most severe cases, complications can include respiratory failure, kidney failure, septic shock, or even death.

The Guest House at Graceland

A Kentucky family filed a lawsuit September 7 against The Guest House at Graceland after one of four family members infected with Legionnaires’ disease died, according to multiple news reports. The four family members were infected after staying at the hotel in Memphis, TN.

Linda “Gail” Godsey, 62, of Breathitt County, KY, died from the effects of Legionnaires’ disease on June 21, the same day she was hospitalized. She was suffering from fever, respiratory problems, headaches, nausea, and diarrhea before entering the hospital.

The other family members – Godsey’s sister, niece, and daughter – were sickened with related symptoms but recovered after staying at the hotel between June 10-13.

The wrongful death lawsuit alleges that The Guest House at Graceland was negligent and did not properly maintain its water system, which led to the outbreak. Along with The Guest House at Graceland, LLC, also named in the suit were Elvis Presley Enterprises, LLC; Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc., and Pyramid Tennessee Management, LLC.

The outbreak at The Guest House, which infected nine people between May 15 and June 26, was reported by the Shelby County Health Department (SCHD) eight days after Godsey’s passing. The SCHD did not mention her passing at the time.

The hotel’s aquatic facilities, including the swimming pool and hot tub, were temporarily closed after the health department found traces of Legionella bacteria, which causes Legionnaires’ disease. The SCHD allowed the aquatic facilities to reopen in July after extensive cleaning and testing returned negative results for Legionella.

Kenneth Dawson, Jr., and his wife, Linda Dawson, residents of Shelby County, filed a separate lawsuit in August against the hotel after Mr. Dawson was hospitalized with Legionnaires’ disease from June 18 to July 15. While hospitalized, he was intubated with a ventilator for several weeks in the intensive care unit. The couple stayed at the hotel June 11-13 and used the pool and hot tub facilities on June 12.

CDC: About 25,000 cases of Legionnaires’ annually

Legionnaires’ disease is a severe type of pneumonia or lung infection. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated 25,000 cases of pneumonia due to Legionella bacteria (Legionella pneumophila) occur in the United States on a yearly basis. However, only 5,000 cases are reported because of the disease’s non-specific signs and symptoms.

Legionella bacteria are contracted by inhaling microscopic water droplets in the form of mist or vapor. The bacteria, which thrive in warm water, are found primarily in human-made environments, such as cooling towers, air-conditioning systems, hot tubs, and spas, to name a few.

Complications of Legionnaires’ disease

After Legionnaires’ disease is diagnosed, hospitalization is often required. In the most severe cases, complications can include respiratory failure, kidney failure, septic shock, or even death.

Anyone can get the disease, but those at the greatest risk include:

  • people 50 or older
  • smokers (current or former)
  • heavy drinkers of alcoholic beverages
  • individuals with chronic lung disease
  • people with weakened immune systems.

Two cases of Legionnaires’ disease at the same apartment building in Rego Park, NY, has prompted an investigation by the New York Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH), according to numerous news reports.

Two tenants at a Hampton House LLC apartment building, located at 93-10 Queens Boulevard, were diagnosed with Legionnaires’ within a six-month span. One remains hospitalized, while the other has recovered.

There are 108 units in the six-story building, built in 1950.

Notices posted by the management company alerted residents that “there is no evidence there even is Legionella in the building’s water system, but we want to err on the side of caution.” Residents were advised that they still can use and drink water, but individuals who are 50 and older and those with weakened immune systems is were warned to take extra steps as a precaution, including taking baths instead of showers and filling sinks slowly while washing dishes in order to avoid creating and breathing in mist.

The DOHMH noted that the Rego Park building has no cooling tower, but tests on the water system have been performed and those results are expected back in September.

Numerous sources can be home to Legionella

Legionella – the bacteria that causes Legionnaires’ disease – is contracted by inhaling microscopic water droplets in the form of mist or vapor. The bacteria, which grow best in warm water, are found primarily in human-made environments. Outbreaks have been linked to a range of sources, such as:

  • showers and faucets
  • cooling towers (air conditioning units for large buildings)
  • hot tubs that aren’t drained after each use
  • swimming pools
  • decorative fountains
  • hot water tanks and heaters
  • large plumbing systems.

Legionnaires’ disease can produce complications

After Legionnaires’ disease has been diagnosed, hospitalization is often necessary. In the most severe cases, complications can include respiratory failure, kidney failure, septic shock, or even death.

Anyone can get the disease, but those at the greatest risk of infection include:

  • people 50 or older
  • smokers (current or former)
  • heavy drinkers of alcoholic beverages
  • people with chronic lung disease
  • people with weakened immune systems.

A busy summer for Legionnaires’ disease in NYC

Earlier in August, the DOHMH investigated another Queens’ apartment complex after two residents at Latimer Gardens in Flushing were diagnosed with Legionnaires’ within a 10-month period.

In June, one person died and another six were hospitalized after contracting Legionnaires’ disease in the Lenox Hill neighborhood on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Also in June, two New York City police officers took ill with Legionnaires’ disease at the 23rd Precinct in Harlem. An infected water system is believed to be responsible for those illnesses.

New York City’s largest outbreak killed 12 in 2015

The largest outbreak in New York City history occurred just two years ago. Contaminated cooling towers were blamed for producing Legionnaires’ disease that killed 12 people and sickened more than 120 others in the South Bronx.

Two cases of Legionnaires’ disease at James Square Health and Rehabilitation Centre in Syracuse, NY, have caused the New York State Department of Health (NYSDH) to recommend a water restriction on one of the facilities’ two buildings, according to news reports.

Drinking water in the 918 James Street building was found to contain Legionella, the bacteria that causes Legionnaires’ disease.

The NYSDH, which is currently investigating the facility, recommended a water restriction last month after water samples detected low levels of Legionella in the tap water in the first of its two buildings at 918 James Street. Testing was required after two cases of Legionnaires’ disease were reported between March and July 24. Testing at the second building at 906 James Street showed no reportable levels of the bacteria.

James Square hired a remediation expert, who hyperchlorinated (disinfected) the water system and installed filters on shower heads and faucets. Officials also installed a system that filters the water supply to both buildings.

According to a NYSDH spokesperson, James Square violated state regulations by not promptly reporting elevated Legionella water levels to the health department earlier this summer. Nursing homes are required to immediately notify the NYSDH whenever at least 30 percent of water samples test positive for Legionella. The NYSDH said the nursing home received elevated test results in early June but did not report the results until June 27.

An attorney representing the nursing home disputed the health department’s claim, stating the nursing home did not receive the June test results until August 1.

Alternate water supplies, including bottled water, are being provided to residents until additional testing shows the eradication of the bacteria from the water supply.

Both individuals who were sickened are doing well, according to a nursing home administrator.

South Bronx outbreak in 2015 prompted state regulations

The state adopted regulations designed to protect nursing home and hospital patients from Legionnaires’ disease after a 2015 outbreak in the South Bronx linked to cooling towers sickened 120 people, 12 of whom died, the largest outbreak in New York state history. Under those regulations, nursing homes and hospitals were required to submit water sampling and management plans to the state by Dec. 1, 2016. James Square has yet to submit a plan, according to the NYSDH.

The Legionnaires’ scare is the latest black eye for James Square, which has a history of poor quality and is currently under investigation by the state Attorney General’s office for patient care.

A busy summer for Legionnaires’ disease in NY

The Syracuse outbreak is the most recent for the state of New York. In June, one person died and another seven were hospitalized after contracting Legionnaires’ disease in the Lenox Hill neighborhood on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Cooling towers were believed to be the cause after 24 of the 116 towers in the area tested positive for traces of Legionella.

Also in June, two New York City police officers took ill with Legionnaires’ disease at the 23rd Precinct in Harlem. An infected water system is believed to be responsible for those illnesses.

Complications of Legionnaires’ disease

After Legionnaires’ disease is diagnosed, hospitalization is often necessary. In the most severe cases, complications can include respiratory failure, kidney failure, septic shock, or even death.

Anyone can get the disease, but those at the greatest risk include:

  • people 50 or older
  • smokers, both current or former
  • heavy drinkers of alcohol
  • individuals who suffer chronic lung disease
  • people with suppressed immune systems.