Second resident at DC retirement community diagnosed with Legionnaires' disease

Photo: ABC 7

WASHINGTON (ABC7) — A second resident at a Northwest Washington retirement community has been diagnosed with Legionnaires' disease, the DC Department of Health said Tuesday.

DC Health officials say the two people live at Ingleside at Rock Creek Retirement Community. The first diagnosis was announced Monday.

Legionnaires' disease is a type of pneumonia that is caused by exposure to Legionella bacteria.

According to DC Health, "the infection is caused by breathing in a mist or vapor containing the bacteria" and the "illness almost never spreads from person-to-person."

Everyone who comes in contact with the bacteria does not get sick, but DC Health says the risk increases in particular groups, such as the elderly, smokers or "people with weakened immune systems."

DC Health says the following symptoms are associated with Legionnaires' disease:

  • Fever
  • Shortness of breath
  • Cough
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle aches
  • Headaches

DC Health says they are working with DC Water and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to determine how the infection occurred.

Ingleside has been advised by DC Health to undergo full water restrictions until filters are installed on sick faucets and showers as a precaution, as legionella bacteria are spread through water.

“It has to be water that’s a mist of a vapor so you actually inhale it,” explained Dr. Sasha McGee, senior infections disease epidemiologist at DC Health.

For example, the hot water vapor from a shower or while using a sink can be inhaled.

The executive director at Ingleside at Rock Creek released a statement:

“Currently, Ingleside at Rock Creek is under a water restriction as there are two confirmed cases of Legionnaires’ disease. We truly care about the health and well-being of our residents and have taken steps to ensure that preventive measures are in place. We are working with DC Water and the DC Department of Health to investigate the cause.

“Ingleside at Rock Creek Management continues to provide ample supplies of water to all residents and is installing water filtration units in every resident apartment. DC Health has authorized with the CDC that Ingleside at Rock Creek residents can use their dishwashers, washers and dryers,” said Executive Director Frank Beech.

DC Health officials advised the facility to install filters on the showers and sinks.

“They are going to be installed in their units so they can safely use the water. And until those are installed there are water restrictions so they aren’t using the water and being potentially exposed to the mist that they can breathe in and become sick,” said McGee.

Around 50 people came down with Legionnaires’ disease in 2017. So far, that number of cases is at 40 in the District.

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