Two outbreaks of Legionnaires’ disease have killed five people in recent weeks at a central Ohio retirement center and a man who worked at an auto parts plant in the western part of the state.
Investigators have tracked down the source of the deaths at the retirement home and are hopeful there will be no more new cases, but tests are continuing to find out the cause of the other outbreak.
The state health department on Tuesday confirmed a fifth death from the retirement community in Reynoldsburg, just outside Columbus. The outbreak there began in early July and has sickened 30 other people.
Legionnaires’ is a potentially deadly form of pneumonia caused by bacteria in water and spreads through mist or water droplets. It’s not contagious and usually affects people with weakened immune systems
Tests pinpointed the source of the bacteria at the Wesley Ridge Retirement Community to the water system and a cooling tower, Ohio Department of Health spokeswoman Tessie Pollock said.
The outbreak, she said, is nearing a point at which those who were exposed are no longer likely to show symptoms. About 200 people live at the center.
The retirement community has taken steps to clean the water by hyper-chlorinating and superheating it. The center also is installing filters on shower heads and advising residents not to drink the water until it completes testing.
Meanwhile, investigators were waiting on tests to determine what caused one person to die from Legionnaires’ disease and sickened another at an auto parts supplier in the western Ohio town of St. Marys.
There is no evidence that the AAP plant is linked to the outbreak, but its operators already have taken steps to clean the water and sanitize potential bacteria sources.