An outbreak of Legionnaire’s disease has been reported at a community in the North Port neighborhood of Venice, Florida.
The IslandWalk at the West Villages community was asked to shut down their pool and spa on February 23 after at least 11 people were taken to area hospitals for treatment of Legionnaire’s disease.
The Sarasota Count Health Department is investigating the outbreak and conducting tests on the community’s water system. Disease Intervention Services Program Manager Michael Drennon said:
The really important thing is identifying the source, making sure we’re educating people on the symptoms and then eliminating that source.”
Legionnaire’s disease is a severe type of bacterial pneumonia (lung infection) that is caused by the Legionella bacteria. It spreads when people breathe in the bacteria on water droplets in the air.
The symptoms of Legionnaire’s disease include muscle pain, chills, high fever, shortness of breath, and nausea. In severe cases, it can lead to severe complications like respiratory distress or even death.
Outbreaks are often traced to buildings with complex water systems, such as pools, fountains, spas, and air conditioning. Health officials will be testing the irrigation system and other potential sources.
Test results are expected to come back within 10 days. Once the source of the outbreak is identified, the system must be undergo a special cleaning process to ensure that Legionella is killed.