Legionnaires case under investigation


By Glenn Battishill - gbattishill@aimmediamidwest.com



The Delaware General Health District (DGHD) is currently investigating a confirmed case of Legionnaires’ disease recently contracted by a resident at Country-View of Sunbury nursing home.

The health district reported Wednesday that it opened the investigation on June 28, and since that time, the nursing home — located at 14961 N. Old 3C Highway in Sunbury — has been cooperative.

The DGHD reported its environmental health division staff and certified plumbing inspector have visited the site to identify possible sources of exposures to bacteria, conducting environmental sampling for Legionella, and recommending environmental remediation strategies to prevent further transmission. The health district reported it is working with Country-View of Sunbury to identify additional residents for testing.

According to the health district, Legionnaires’ disease is a severe form of pneumonia caused by the Legionella bacterium. Although Legionella can live in fresh water, it’s often associated with large or complex water systems that are usually found in hospitals, nursing homes or hotels. Legionnaires’ disease cannot be obtained from another person. It can only be contracted by breathing in small water droplets that contain Legionella from sources such as hot tubs or showers. Investigations into Legionnaires’ disease are complex, and often difficult to determine the origin of the bacteria, the health district said Tuesday.

Megan Edwards, a multimedia specialist with the health district, said Wednesday that this case of Legionnaires’ disease does not put the general public at risk, and she added the disease is treatable.

“Legionnaires’ disease can be serious but can be treated,” Edwards said. “People who have certain risk factors have a greater chance of getting sick … This particular case does not affect the general public at this time. However, Legionnaires’ disease grows and multiplies in building water systems (hot tubs, potable water used for showering, cooling towers, decorative fountains) found in places such as hotels, cruise ships, hospitals and nursing homes. Most healthy people do not get Legionnaires’ disease after exposure to Legionella. Those with certain risk factors are more susceptible to getting sick if exposed to Legionella.”

Symptoms include cough, shortness of breath, fever, muscle aches, and headaches, the health district said.

The DGHD added Country-View of Sunbury has implemented recommended water use restrictions to reduce exposure while showering and washing hands. These restrictions include minimizing exposure to aerosols, such as faucets and shower-heads.

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By Glenn Battishill

gbattishill@aimmediamidwest.com

Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.

Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.