The Florida Department of Health in Lake County has confirmed two Legionnaires’ disease cases at a 55-plus community in Lady Lake, FL, according to

Two sickened with Legionnaires' disease at Water Oak Country Club.
Hot tub sickens two with Legionnaires’ disease at Water Oak Country Club, FL, community.

Laboratory testing determined that the hot tub at the Water Oak Country Club clubhouse was the source of the illnesses. No further information was available on the current condition of the victims, or whether they required hospitalization.

Residents, visitors and employees who have used the hot tub since Feb. 1 and who have had or are currently exhibiting pneumonia- or flu-like symptoms (see below) should seek immediate medical attention from their primary health-care provider. They should also contact the Department of Health at (352) 771-5573 to report their illness.

The 300-acre, active gated-community is located near The Villages, off U.S. 27/441 between Leesburg and Ocala, approximately one hour north of Orlando. Amenities include an 18-hole golf course, four tennis courts, bocce ball court, horseshoe pit, an Olympic-size swimming pool, and fitness center, equipped with a Jacuzzi and sauna.

Water Oak Country Club is part of Sun Communities, Inc., a real-estate investment trust with more than 300 manufactured home communities and RV resorts located in 29 states throughout the United States and Ontario, Canada. Sun Communities offers all-age communities, Sun RV resorts, and active 55-plus communities. Water Oak is one of Sun’s 100 active 55-plus communities in 71 cities.

A rough 2017 for Orlando

There were 21 confirmed cases of Legionnaires’ disease last year in Orange County, for which Orlando is the county seat. Some of the more high-profile incidents included:

  • Seven guests at three LA Fitness clubs in the metropolitan area were infected with Legionnaires’ between April and June. In April, three guests of the LA Fitness in Ocoee (1560 E. Silver Star Road) contracted the disease, although tests for Legionella at that facility were negative. And last June, four members of the Metro West area LA Fitness (4792 Kirkman Road) and the Hunter’s Creek LA Fitness (12700 S. Orange Blossom Trail) were sickened.
  • In July, two residents at Summit Greens, a 55-and-older living community in suburban Orlando, were infected with Legionnaires’ disease.

Legionnaires’ 101

Legionnaires’ disease – also called legionellosis and Legionella pneumonia – 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 each year, but only 5,000 cases are reported because of the disease’s nonspecific signs and symptoms.

Ten percent of those who become infected with Legionnaires’ disease will die from the infection.

Legionella bacteria are contracted by inhaling microscopic water droplets, usually 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 number of sources, such as:

  • hot tubs and whirlpools
  • swimming pools
  • showers and faucets
  • equipment used in physical therapy
  • hot-water tanks and heaters
  • mist machines and hand-held sprayers
  • the cooling towers of air conditioning systems
  • large plumbing systems
  • water systems, such as those used in hospitals, nursing homes, and hotels
  • decorative fountains.

People also can contract Legionnaires’ disease when they “aspirate” contaminated drinking water – that is, choking or coughing while drinking can cause water to go down the wrong pipe into the lungs. It is also possible to contract the disease from home plumbing systems. Both of these, however, happen very rarely.

What is an outbreak?
A Legionnaires’ disease outbreak occurs when two or more people are exposed to Legionella bacteria and get sick in the same vicinity around the same time, according to the CDC.

Who is at risk?
Anyone can get Legionnaires’ disease, but those most susceptible to infection include:

  • people 50 years of age or older
  • smokers, current and former
  • heavy drinkers of alcoholic beverages
  • people with chronic lung disease
  • people with compromised immune systems
  • recipients of organ transplants
  • individuals who are on specific drug protocols (corticosteroids, to name one).

What are the symptoms?
Legionnaires’ disease is similar to other types of pneumonia. Symptoms can resemble those of the flu in the following forms:

  • cough
  • shortness of breath
  • fever
  • muscle aches
  • headaches
  • gastrointestinal symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.