JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A fourth person was diagnosed with Legionnaires' disease at an elder care facility, part of an outbreak First Coast News first reported Monday.
The Duval County Health Department issued a Health Advisory to on April 21 after finding a pattern of illness among residents of Camellia at Deerwood.
According to Charles Griggs, DOH spokesman, two residents contracted a type of pneumonia caused by the Legionella bacteria in March and April. That triggered a look at recent reported cases, which found a related case at the senior facility from November 2013. Still another case was discovered in April, during course of the inquiry.
According to a Duval County Health Department investigation, low water temperatures at the elder care facility were responsible for the outbreak. Legionnaires' disease is not spread by human contact, rather is typically caused by breathing in contaminated vapor from showers, fountains or spas. The bacteria thrives at temperatures of 108 degrees Fahrenheit, but can be killed by flushing hot water through a water system. While Legionnaires' can be treated with antibiotics, it can be dangerous, or even fatal in older people.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, outbreaks of Legionella bacteria occur "when two or more people become ill in the same place at about the same time." There have been no other reported outbreaks locally for more than a year.
Perry Brown, the facility's general manager, declined to say whether any additional residents have gotten sick since the notice went out, but he did say "we are working directly with the Health Department to keep our residents safe."
Spokesperson Griggs said the facility flushed its system with 170 degree water and believes it has eradicated the bacterium.