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One dead after outbreak of Legionnaires' disease in Lake County

Posted at 4:46 PM, Nov 16, 2016

There are now 12 confirmed cases of Legionnaires' disease in Lake County. 

This is up from the 10 cases reported by the Lake County General Health District Wednesday. 

One person has died from the disease.

The Lake County General Health District is working with the Ohio Department of Health and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to investigate the cases. According to the Lake County Health Commissioner, three of the sick people worked in companies located next to each other in Eastlake. 

The Lake County General Health District provided the timeline as follows: 

  • August 25, 2016 — LCGHD completed a Legionella Environmental Assessment at a business on Lakeland Blvd. in Eastlake, based on the August 2016 reports of an employee being ill with possible Legionella bacteria.   No areas of concern were identified during the investigation.
  • September 26, 2016  — LCGHD was notified by Ohio Department of Health of a second and third case of Legionella disease amongst employees of businesses located on Lakeland Blvd. in Eastlake.
  • September 30, 2016  — LCGHD completed a Legionella Environmental Assessment at a second business on Lakeland Blvd. in Eastlake, based on August 2016 reports of an employee being ill with confirmed Legionella disease.  No areas of concern were identified during the investigation.
  • October 4, 2016  — LCGHD completed a Legionella Environmental Assessment at Consolidated Precision Products (CPP) based on the September 26th disease confirmation.  During the investigation, several areas of concern were noted.  At this visit, LCGHD provided CPP with information on Legionnaires’ disease and the importance of cleaning cooling towers.
  • October 11, 2016  — LCGHD notified Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) of three cases of Legionnaires’ disease amongst employees of businesses located on Lakeland Blvd. in Eastlake.
  • October 25, 2016  — Representatives of LCGHD and OSHA toured the facilities at CPP and took water samples from the cooling towers.
  • November 9, 2016 — In accordance with protocols approved by Ohio Department of Health, CPP completed the process of cleaning and sanitizing their cooling towers.
  • November 16, 2016 — LCGHD received results from CPP’s third-party laboratory samples results confirming the presence of Legionella bacteria in one cooling tower prior to cleaning and sanitizing the cooling towers.  Results were also received from samples taken after cleaning and sanitizing, no Legionella bacteria was detected.

According to the Lake County General Health District, Consolidated Precision Products is cooperating fully in the investigation.

"It's important to know that we will never really know the true source of the bacteria, we do know that one cooling towers was positive," said Ron H. Graham, Health Commissioner.

Officials say mist or vapor emitted from contaminated water cooling towers could have contained Legionella bacteria and traveled through the air to infect people who breathe in the bacteria.

Consolidated Precision Products issued the following statement regarding the findings: 

Consolidated Precision Products’ independent test results recently confirmed the presence of elevated levels of the Legionella bacteria in one of the cooling towers at our Eastlake, OH facility.  After these tests were taken, the facility’s production and cooling water systems, including the cooling towers, were cleaned and disinfected by an experienced industrial water treatment company in accordance with recommendations and protocols from the Ohio Department of Health.  The cleaning and disinfecting activities that we conducted are the recommended course of action to remedy Legionella bacteria growth in cooling towers.  No Legionella bacteria was detected in post-cleaning test results.  We have kept our employees informed of the activities at the facility and are fully cooperating with the appropriate federal, state and local health agencies.

Legionella bacteria infects people who breathe in mist or vapor from contaminated water and is not spread from person-to-person.

While most people who are exposed to Legionella bacteria do not become ill, some can get sick with Legionnaires' disease, which is a severe form of pneumonia. The bacteria can also cause a milder infection called Potomac fever which is characterized by flu-like symptoms.