Legionnaires' Outbreak? Alabama Links 13 Cases to Nursing Home

Monday, 21 Oct 2013 05:04 PM

By Ken Mandel

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The death of an Alabama woman has been linked to Legionnaires' disease, and 12 other cases have been confirmed, according to the Alabama Department of Public Health.

All 13 cases have been tied to the Glenwood Healthcare nursing home in Florence, Ala. It was detected earlier this month, according to The Washington Post. Ten of the cases were residents, while three were visitors.

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The woman, whose name was withheld, was a visitor in her 80s, and died in a Tuscaloosa hospital on Thursday.

"We have a lot of cultures pending in the laboratory," lead investigator Dr. Karen Landers told local TV station WAFF 48 News. "This germ has to be grown in a special laboratory and the CDC has been providing technical assistance and support to the Alabama Department of Public Health in this. We do expect some results early next week."

Landers added that there are another 10 suspected cases.

In a statement released Friday, Glenwood Healthcare said in a statement they are working with health officials to determine the cause.

"As a leader in long-term care health care in Alabama, Glenwood Healthcare immediately proceeded to notify and cooperate with state and local health departments and area hospitals with respect to identifying and treating any instances of Legionellosis," the statement read. "Glenwood Healthcare is not aware of any conclusive results from the environmental testing performed in our community by Alabama Department of Public Health and the U.S. Center for Disease Control that identify the source of Legionella bacteria."

According to The Mayo Clinic, Legionnaires' disease is a "severe form of pneumonia — lung inflammation usually caused by infection." It is caused by a bacterium known as legionella. It is typically contracted by inhaling the bacteria, rather than person-to-person contact. Older adults, smokers, and people with weakened immune systems are more susceptible.

According to HC Information Resources, a company that lists its mission as providing "information and consulting services to protect health and life by reducing the risk of Legionella and other waterborne pathogens," listed four other outbreaks this year.

In August, five people died in an Ohio retirement community of Legionnaires' disease. The victims ranged in age from 63 to 99.

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Related stories:

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Legionnaires' Disease Spikes in New England

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