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The Delaware General Health District (DGHD) is investigating a confirmed case of Legionnaires’ disease at a nursing home north of Columbus, Ohio, the third Columbus-area care facility dealing with a Legionella issue in the past three months.

Inhaling microscopic water droplets in the form of mist or vapor causes the absorption of Legionella, the bacteria that causes Legionnaires’ disease, a severe type of pneumonia or lung infection.

Members from the DGHD’s “environmental health division staff and a certified plumbing inspector” visited Country-View of Sunbury Nursing & Rehabilitation Center to “identify the possible sources to the bacteria, conducting environmental sampling for Legionella and recommending remediation strategies to prevent further transmission,” according to DGHD’s press release.

Citing privacy concerns, the facility released no additional information on the resident’s condition. Country-View is working with the health department to identify other residents at risk for infection.

The Ohio Department of Health is assisting in the investigation.

Country-View, located at 14961 North Old 3C Road in Sunbury, north of Columbus, has implemented water-use restrictions to minimize possible exposure to the disease, which included decreasing contact with water aerosol sources, such as faucets and shower heads.

Residents at higher risk
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 every year. However, the disease’s nonspecific symptoms cause the reporting of only 5,000 cases.

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

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

Columbus prison hit again

An inmate at Franklin Medical Center (FMC) in Columbus was hospitalized in late June after contracting Legionnaires’ disease. The illness is the fifth Legionnaires case reported at the corrections medical center since 2017.

According to reports, the 69-year-old prisoner is in stable, non-life-threatening condition at Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center, where he was diagnosed with the bacterial pneumonia.

The patient experienced two days of nausea and vomiting in FMC’s Zone B minimum security prison facility before being transferred to the OSU hospital.

Legionnaires symptoms
Legionnaires’ disease usually develops two to 10 days after exposure to Legionella bacteria. It frequently begins with the following symptoms:

  • headache
  • muscle pain
  • chills
  • fever, which can be 104 degrees Fahrenheit or higher.

By the second or third day, other symptoms develop, including:

  • cough, which can bring up mucus and sometimes blood
  • shortness of breath
  • chest pain
  • gastrointestinal symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
  • confusion and other mental changes.

Although Legionnaires’ disease primarily affects the lungs, it occasionally can cause infections in wounds and in other parts of the body, including the heart.

Zone B investigated
Franklin hospital officials are trying to identify the source of the Legionella.

Zone B, which was known previously as the Franklin Pre-Release Center, houses 364 cadre and medical high-acuity inmates. The prison’s department confirmed its flushing and hyper-chlorinating Zone B’s showers and water system.

“We’re in there testing the water – the shower areas where the individual, we think, was exposed, and all the other dorms on that site as well to ensure that we’re getting a good test of the water,” said Kevin Runyon, state corrections medical director. “And after that, we’ll run it through a hyper-chlorination process.”

Fourth Mount Carmel lawsuit filed

After a Legionnaires’ disease outbreak infected 16 people – and killed one – at Mount Carmel Grove City hospital in suburban Columbus, four lawsuits have been filed against the hospital, which opened in April.

The latest suit was filed July 2 by James Lawton, who alleges he contracted the disease in late May. The suit names Mount Carmel Health System, Mount Carmel’s parent company Trinity Health, and others.

Also filing suit:

  • June 11: Martin J. Brown, 71, of Orient in Pickaway County. He contracted the disease after undergoing heart surgery at Mount Carmel.
  • June 14: Anna Hillis, 59, of Grove Grove filed a negligence lawsuit. She contracted the disease after visiting her brother-in-law at the hospital.
  • June 27: The family of Deanna “Dee” Rezes filed a wrongful death lawsuit after Rezes died after being diagnosed with Legionnaires while a patient at the hospital. The lawsuit revealed a urine test looking for Legionella had to be reordered because the original was canceled or not processed.

Officials for the health system and its parent company, Michigan-based Trinity Health, confirmed in late June that the hospital did not adequately disinfect its water supply, contributing to the outbreak.

“Tests received this week from May 23 through June 1 showed significant Legionella bacteria were in our hot-water system at the time,” Mount Carmel officials said in a statement. “We believe the bacteria are linked to inadequate disinfection prior to Mount Carmel Grove City’s opening,”

The 16 people sickened range in age from 48 to 90 years old, including a 75-year-old woman who died. Eleven of the 16 were patients, four were hospital visitors, and one was an employee; 14 required hospitalization.

Franklin County Public Health officials said the exposures occurred between April 27 and May 31.

Since the outbreak, Mount Carmel has taken numerous steps to reduce the risk of more infections, including:

  • installing a permanent supplemental disinfection system, with 24/7 monitoring and controls, which continuously adds chloramine to the water supply;
  • updating protocols to include daily flushing of every patient room (occupied or unoccupied);
  • and the disinfection and cleaning of the cooling tower.