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Legionnaires' disease confirmed at senior living center

Duval County Health Department confirms 1 case at facility

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Duval County Health Department has confirmed a single case of Legionnaires' disease at a senior living center in the Beauclerc area of Jacksonville.

The illness was reported at Watercrest Senior Living on San Jose Boulevard, north of Mandarin.

The center, which is just south of Baymeadows, opened last October.

Watercrest spokeswoman Susie Wiles said it’s unknown where the patient contracted the disease, since the bacteria that causes it can remain latent in a person's body for years. She said he started showing symptoms Friday, and no one else at the facility is showing symptoms.

According to the Mayo Clinic, Legionnaires' disease is a severe form of pneumonia, or lung inflammation, usually caused by infection. Legionnaires' is caused by a bacterium known as legionella and can't be spread by person-to-person contact.

READ: Frequently asked questions about Legionnaires' disease

Most people get Legionnaires' disease from inhaling the bacteria, and older adults, smokers and people with weakened immune systems are particularly susceptible to the illness, Mayo Clinic said.

The legionella bacterium also causes Pontiac fever, a milder illness resembling the flu. Separately or together, the two illnesses are sometimes called legionellosis. Pontiac fever usually clears on its own, but untreated Legionnaires' disease can be fatal. Although prompt treatment with antibiotics usually cures Legionnaires' disease, some people continue to experience problems after treatment.

The bacterium is known to be found in standing and stagnant water. Watercrest has flushed its water system twice, and is having its water tested by a private company, not just the health department. The results of the private testing will be known in four to seven days, and they will be released.

Residents at the Watercrest Senior Living facility who suspect they have or had Legionnaires’ disease should see their medical provider for an exam, and if their medical provider suspects they have legionella, they should report it to DOH-Duval at 904-253-1850 or after hours to 904-434-6035.

 

Because only one person has tested positive, the case does not meet the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's definition of an outbreak.