Mount Carmel Grove City hospital has reported an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease with at least 14 confirmed cases, including one death. The $361-million facility opened on April 28, and the first case of Legionnaires’ was reported on April 29. This could indicate a serious problem with the facility’s water system or maintenance practices.

Legionnaires’ disease is a type of pneumonia that is caused by the Legionella pneumophila bacteria, which typically enters the system through inhalation. Legionnaires’ is generally not transmitted by person-to-person contact. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Legionnaires’ disease is commonly associated with buildings with complex water systems where the bacteria can spread.

The symptoms of Legionnaire’s disease are much like those of pneumonia, including cough, muscle aches, headaches, fever and shortness of breath.

There is no vaccine for Legionnaires’ disease. Prevention relies on proper maintenance of building water systems. Treatment of the sick typically involves a course of antibiotics and hospitalization, but about 1 in 10 people sickened with Legionnaires’ dies.

In general, healthy people exposed to Legionella are able to clear the bacteria successfully without getting sick. People at greater risk for Legionnaires’ disease include:

  • Those 50 and older
  • Smokers and former smokers
  • People with chronic lung diseases such as COPD or emphysema
  • People with weak or weakened immune systems
  • Those with cancer or underlying illnesses such as diabetes, liver disease or kidney failure

According to Ohio Department of Health adjudication documents obtained by ABC 6, the Legionella was traced to the 7th floor and the emergency room. The department told the hospital to restrict water and implement other remediation practices.

The hospital did implement water restrictions on several floors, but as of June 6 those restrictions had been lifted. According to 10 TV, other measures to address the spread of Legionella have also been implemented, and the hospital is working with officials to identify the source of the bacteria

The incubation period for the disease can last 14 days, so it is possible that additional patients from Mount Carmel Grove City could still be diagnosed. Former Mount Carmel Grove City patients with questions about the issue can call the hospital at (614) 265-8111.

If you have become sick and suspect it could be Legionnaires’ disease, it’s crucial to get good treatment right away. Once you have been treated, you may want to discuss your situation with a medical malpractice attorney.