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DOH: Nearly a dozen cases of Legionnaires' linked to nursing home

Wesley Health Care Center
Wesley Health Care Center
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SARATOGA SPRINGS -- State officials now say nearly a dozen cases of the potentially deadly Legionnaire's Disease are linked with a nursing home in Saratoga Springs.

A NYS Department of Health spokesperson tells CBS 6 investigators are looking into 11 cases of Legionnaire's linked to Wesley Health Care Center.

The DOH says 7 other cases in the area have not shown any association to Wesley.

Legionnaire's is a serious form of pneumonia.

In October, Wesley announced it was taking precautions by using bottled water, bagged ice, and installing water filters in showers and faucets to curb any potential spread.

A spokesperson says the center is also restricting water use and working with a company to install a special filter designed to remove the Legionella bacteria from the water supply.

In the last month, the DOH says Wesley's four water cooling towers were tested and found extremely low levels of the bacteria.

Health investigators are looking to find a cause, investigating a number of sources, including construction on the city's water system.

Our requests for an on camera interview with the Wesley Community were denied today.

The company did send the following response:

The Wesley Community has been extraordinarily transparent and diligent about informing our many stakeholders, including residents, family members, staff and volunteers, since we first learned about the presence of Legionella bacteria in isolated areas of our campus.

One month ago today, we informed the community that several residents who had spent time at our nursing home had tested positive for the Legionella bacteria. We immediately began to work in close collaboration with the New York State Department of Health to implement all proper policies, procedures and precautionary measures to address the situation. These steps included the introduction of a water restriction plan and testing and analysis of water samples. Additionally, Wesley retained a water treatment company to install a monochloramine system, which is designed to purify, cleanse and eliminate bacteria from the water supply.

The Wesley Community is dedicated to the care and comfort of older adults. We will continue to strive to protect and enhance the quality of life of our older adult population.

The full Department of Health response is below:

The New York State Department of Health continues to closely monitor cases of Legionellosis in the Saratoga Springs area. Multiple sources have been investigated, including construction on the municipal water system. As a precautionary step, state DOH recommended water restrictions for the facility, which it has implemented. ? The Department will continue to work aggressively to identify an environmental source and protect against any additional cases in the Saratoga area.

Additional Information

The State Health Department is currently investigating 11 cases of Legionnaires’ disease associated with the Wesley Health Care Center (WHCC).

Investigations into the 7 (previous) additional cases did not identify any visits to or stays at the WHCC or its campus.

Investigations of clusters of Legionellosis are often not able to identify a common environmental source for several reasons

The WHCC has four cooling towers. NYSDOH recommended additional testing of the towers, even though WHCC was compliant with the new regulations and the most recent samples were collected in early September.

All four towers were tested again in late October and found to have

These towers were checked for recent sampling results and found to be in compliance with the new regulations.

WHCC also sampled its potable water system in early November and had some minor positive results for Legionella but nothing indicative of a problem.

To date, the NYSDOH has not been able to obtain sputum specimens from any of the cases of Legionnaire’s disease associated with WHCC.

As stated previously, a sputum sample is required in order to potentially match legionella cases to an environmental source.

WHCC is planning to install a new monochloramine treatment for its potable water systems.

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NYSDOH requested that samples be taken 7 to 10 days after the installation to validate efficacy and provided technical assistance to the facility on possible unintentional consequences of the chloramination system that should be considered.

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