Legionnaire’s Disease Cases Spark Senior Living Facility Investigations

Sep 24, 2019
Originally published on September 25, 2019 12:40 pm

Updated: Wednesday, Sept. 25, 12:30 p.m.

Two Northeast Ohio senior living facilities have had to shut down their water systems and bring in the Cuyahoga County Board of Health after a pair of confirmed cases of Legionnaire’s disease cases.

A patient at the Altenheim Senior Living Facility in Strongsville contracted Legionnaire’s after a 10-day stay in the rehabilitation center. The patient’s name has not being released and the water system has been shut down while health officials investigate.

The center’s pipes are being investigated as the possible source of infection. Legionnaire’s is a water-borne disease, and the patient wasn’t in any other building on campus, according to Altenheim staff.

“That facility is very specific. It shares a hallway with other parts of the campus but the water supply coming in from the main only serves that facility,” said John Sobolewski, the environmental health director at the Cuyahoga County Board of Health.

He said the patient was diagnosed by the senior living center. Altenheim officials could not be reached for comment.

On Wednesday morning, county health officials announced a second Ligeonella case and facility is under scrutiny for the same issues.

“An individual that has spent time as a patient at the Broadview Multicare Center in Parma has been diagnosed with Legionella. The specific source of the bacteria has not been determined,” the board of health announced via email. “As a precautionary measure, the water system has been shut down while the public health investigation continues and environmental controls are put in place. In the interim, the facility has instituted temporary water use guidelines.”

Legionnaire’s patients are usually hospitalized and treated with antibiotics. The disease is not contagious. In Ohio, 546 cases of Legionnaires have been reported so far this year, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

“We look at therapy pools, ventilation systems… anything of the right temperature that could grow bacteria and then put that bacteria into the breathing zone,” Sobolewski said.

Investigators rarely find the exact source of an infection, though, he added.

“Rather, what you may find are conditions that indicate what could be a source,” he said. “Unfortunately, it’s not very cut-and-dried to say ‘we’ve got a positive sample.’ It doesn’t work that way

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