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No Increase In Retirement Home Legionnaires' Disease Cases, Residents Await Water Testing

Photo of Legionnaires' test tube. / jarun011
So far, the number of cases of Legionnaires' diseases at a Taylorsville senior living home hasn't increased, but some residents are still waiting for the facility's water to be tested.

There have been no new cases of Legionnaires’ disease at a Taylorsville senior living home but residents are still waiting to find out if their water is clean enough to drink.

Two residents of the assisted living and memory care home Legacy House tested positive for the disease.

The Legionella bacteria can be fatal for individuals who are older or those who have other health issues. ’Legionnaires’ disease is a type of pneumonia caused by the Legionella bacteria.

The disease was named after the first known outbreak in 1976, at an American Legion convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. 200 people were hospitalized after the bacteria was spread through a hotel’s air conditioning system. Each year about 30 cases of the disease are diagnosed in Utah.

Outbreaks often happen in senior living homes because the bacteria thrives in warm water. Assisted living facilities have regulations that prevent water from being too hot for residents.

“We do tend to see Legionella in those facilities a little more often because their water heaters are sometimes low enough that legionella can grow more easily,” said Nicholas Rupp, a representative of the Salt Lake County Health Department.

Since the initial two Legionnaires cases were discovered, the health department has approved residents of Legacy House to use designated showers with Legionella filters, according to Executive Director Nathan Cluff. He said no new cases have been discovered since last week.

The Salt Lake County Health Department took water samples on Friday and are awaiting the results of lab testing. In the meantime residents of Legacy House are still drinking bottled water.

Erik Neumann is a radio producer and writer. A native of the Pacific Northwest, his work has appeared on public radio stations and in magazines along the West Coast. He received his Bachelor's Degree in geography from the University of Washington and a Master's in Journalism from UC Berkeley. Besides working at KUER, he enjoys being outside in just about every way possible.
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