Bacteria Found in Nursing Home Tap Water is Causing Illness to Residents

The Legionella bacteria has been found in the tap water supply for a second time at one nursing home. This has forced the facility to provide bottled water to the residents. The county health commissioner, said the bacteria is commonly found in soil and water supplies. It can cause pneumonia like symptoms, known as Legionnaires’ disease, if it gets into a person’s lungs.

The Legionella bacteria poses no threat in normal concentrations to healthy people but can be a threat to persons whose health already is compromised by other medical conditions, especially severe lung diseases. A resident of the nursing home who died in April and one who died last summer had the bacteria, but it is not known if it was the cause of either deaths. A third resident contracted the bacteria and became ill earlier this year, but has since recovered.

The facility has been working in consultation with the state Department of Health to ensure the nursing home's water supply is safe. This includes routinely testing its tap water. According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Legionella is found naturally in the environment and grows best in warm water, like the kind found in hot tubs, cooling towers, hot water tanks, large plumbing systems and parts of the air-conditioning systems of large buildings.  The disease is acquired when a mist or vapor that has been contaminated with the bacteria is inhaled. It can be treated with antibiotics, but has up to a 30 percent fatality rate.  unfortunately those most susceptible to the disease are the elderly, people with chronic lung diseases and people with weakened immune systems. For more, read the story.

Robert W. Carter, Jr. is a Virginia attorney whose law practice is dedicated to protecting the rights of the victims of nursing home and assisted living neglect and abuse in Richmond, Roanoke, Norfolk, Lynchburg, Danville, Charlottesville, and across Virginia.

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