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Published On: Sun, Oct 20th, 2013

Florence, AL legionella outbreak up to 13 cases, all associated with Glenwood Nursing Home facility

In a follow up to a report Wednesday, Dr. Karen Landers, Assistant State Health Officer for the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH), reports that there are 13 patients with confirmed Legionella pneumonia. This is up two cases from the previous report.

Legionella pneumophila bacteria Image/CDC

Legionella pneumophila bacteria
Image/CDC

In addition, their are at least 10 suspected cases still waiting for laboratory confirmation.

Health officials say currently, all known cases have been associated with Glenwood Nursing Home facility.

The ADPH says the nursing home remains open and operational, is cooperating fully with public health officials, and has performed recommended remediation steps although no water vapor generating sources have been identified at the facility at this time.

In the United States, cooling towers have been a frequent source of Legionella outbreaks. While there are currently no confirmed cultures from cooling towers in the vicinity of Glenwood, out of an abundance of caution, management at Regency Square Mall voluntarily turned theirs off. Dr. Landers stated, “We appreciate their cooperation during this public health outbreak.”

Here are some fast facts about Legionella from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

  • Legionella bacteria can cause Legionnaires’ disease or Pontiac fever, collectively known as legionellosis.
  • The bacterium was named after an outbreak in 1976, when many people who went to a Philadelphia convention of the American Legion suffered from this disease.
  • An estimated 8,000 to 18,000 people are hospitalized with Legionnaires’ disease each year in the U.S.
  • Legionella bacteria are found naturally in the environment, usually in warm water.
  • Legionella bacteria are not transmitted from person to person.
  • People get Legionnaires’ disease or Pontiac fever when they breathe in a mist or vapor (small droplets of water in the air) that has been contaminated with Legionella bacteria.
  • Keeping Legionella bacteria out of water is the key to preventing infection.
  • Most people with Legionnaires’ disease will have pneumonia (lung infection) since theLegionella bacteria grow and thrive in the lungs.

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About the Author

- Writer, Co-Founder and Executive Editor of The Global Dispatch. Robert has been covering news in the areas of health, world news and politics for a variety of online news sources. He regularly writes about infectious disease news for Examiner.com and administers the Outbreak News section of The Global Dispatch.

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