Oregon health officials are investigating six cases of Legionnaires’ Disease in the Murrayhill area of Beaverton, near Portland.
The people range in age from late 40s to early 80s. Four of the six people have been hospitalized.
Although they have yet to pinpoint the exact source of the outbreak, they did find the legionella bacteria that causes pneumonia in an apartment complex hot tub. The bacteria were not found in any other water sources tested in the Murrayhill area, including Murrayhill Lake. Property owners subsequently drained the hot tub, so if it was the source, it is no longer a threat. No new cases have been reported since health officials reported the outbreak on Oct. 28.
“Regular maintenance of hot tubs is important to prevent legionella and other infection-causing bacteria from growing,” said Washington County health officer Dr. Christina Baumann. “This includes making sure filters are changed, tubs are cleaned frequently, and that there is an appropriate chlorine concentration and pH level in the tub.”
Legionnaires’ Disease is caused by a waterborne bacterium that infects peoples’ lungs after they breath aerosolized water contaminated with it.
Most people with healthy immune systems will not get Legionnaires’Disease, even after breathing in the bacteria.
Credit: Nationally Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System Older adults, smokers, and those who alreadyhavelungdiseaseoracompromised immune system are at higher risk and more likely to become seriously ill.
It is found naturally in the environment and grows best in warm conditions. Common sources include hot tubs, hot water tanks, large air conditioning and plumbing systems, fountains, and water bodies, according to Washington County Public Health. Health officials were urging people in the area to be proactive about identifying cases and seeking treatment quickly.
“People with Legionnaires’ Disease may have flu-like symptoms including fever, tiredness, muscle aches and headaches, that often progress to coughing and shortness of breath. Nausea, diarrhea and confusion are also possible symptoms,” Baumann said. “If you live in or frequent the affected area and experience these symptoms, contact your health provider right away so they can determine if you have Legionnaires’ and provide treatment.”