The Connecticut Department of Public Health is investigating two cases of Legionnaires’ disease at a Rocky Hill nursing facility.
DPH said there were two confirmed cases of Legionnaires’ among patients at Apple Rehab. One of those patients recently died, according to DPH.
Legionnaires’ is a bacterial respiratory infection that is caused by breathing in water containing Legionella bacteria. It generally comes from water droplets coming out of showerheads, sinks and other water sources, and is not transmitted person-to-person, DPH said.
Most people exposed to the bacteria do not develop the disease, though people 50 years or older, former smokers, people with chronic lung diseases, and people with weakened immune systems are at greater risk.
"Older individuals, people whose immune systems who aren't working well very, young babies can get very seriously ill with legionella," explained Dr. Virginia Bieluch, who is the director of infectious disease at the Hospital of Central Connecticut.
She said symptoms include fever, chills, cough and shortless of breath. It can result in death, but antibiotics are very effective if it's caught early.
DPH and the staff at Apple Rehab are working to find the source of the bacteria and have taken precautions, including chlorine treatments for the water system.
Katie Garcia, whose friend was recently transferred to Apple Rehab from the hospital, said she found out about the situation through the news reports.
"We all became very concerned and went to the front desk and said what is going on how come we didn't know it," Garcia said. "She said patients and family were notified. Well we weren't because we wouldn't have had him sent here he wouldn't have come here."
Garcia said her friend's health is already compromised and the family is trying to decide what to do given the news.
Apple Rehab released the following statement:
"We have one definitive case of Legionnaires’ disease and have notified our residents and families.
"Legionnaires’ disease is a type of pneumonia caused by bacteria. People who inhale water vapor (mist) that contains the bacteria can get sick. Water vapor can be warm or cool and can come from showers, faucets or cooling towers (units usually located on top of a building that cool the building.)
"The risk of getting sick from a building’s water supply is very low, especially for healthy people.
"We are proactively monitoring patients with new symptoms such as fever, chills, muscle aches and cough for at least 3months. This is more important for patients aged 50 or older (especially if they smoke cigarettes), have chronic lung disease, have a weakened immune system or take medicines that weaken their immune system."
For more information on Legionella control from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, click here.