Wesley Health Center says water test results find 5 positive tests for Legionella bacteria

X-ray of a patient with Legionnaires' disease. (CDC)
X-ray of a patient with Legionnaires' disease. (CDC)

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Two weeks ago, it started as just four cases of Legionnaires’ disease in Saratoga Springs. The New York State Department of Health now confirms they are investigating 15 cases, including two deaths.

The NYS DOH confirms nine of the cases are associated with the Wesley Health Care Center, including both fatalities.

Test results released Thursday of about three dozen water samples taken last month found that while the majority of samples tested negative, there were five positive tests, including one from the outdoor landscaped water feature.

Wesley Health Center says three of the four remaining positive test results were limited to the Hathorn building and Springs building.

The Health Care Center says it is taking this matter very seriously and places great value on the care of its residents and staff. Wesley says it is working with the New York State Department of Health and Saratoga County Public Health Department.

It is also working with a water treatment company and closing evaluating a monochloromine system which purifies and cleans the center’s water.

A group called ‘Prevent Legionnaires’ Disease’ is slamming local health officials, claiming they are not conducting a proper investigation.

In a statement, the center says:

On behalf of all of those who are affiliated with our community, we express our sincere condolences to the families and wish those who have fallen ill a speedy recovery.”

The facility has implemented a water restriction plan and is still awaiting test results.

A group formed after the deadly Legionnaires’ outbreaks in the Bronx last year says health officials are ignoring the likely source: drinking water supply.

“For health care, they are required to test, per NYS state law, the water supply,” said Daryn Cline.

NYS DOH says they are investigating six additional cases, but could not name any potential sources. One woman diagnosed with the disease said earlier this week, she may have contracted it from Saratoga Hospital.

NEWS10 ABC is told they are still not testing for the bacteria.

Cline says they are required to test for it and says, “it’s bizarre that they aren’t.”

In regards to the six additional cases not associated with Wesley, the state health department says a mucus sample is required to potentially find an environmental source, but they say it can be difficult and they are often not able to definitively determine the source of Legionella.

Legionnaires’ disease is caused by the bacteria called Legionella. The disease is caused by breathing in small droplets of water that contain the Legionella bacteria.

Symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease include coughing, shortness of breath, fever, muscle aches, and headaches. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says Legionnaires’ disease can also be associated with other symptoms such as diarrhea, nausea, and confusion.

Symptoms usually begin 2 to 10 days after being exposed to the bacteria, but it can take longer so people should watch for symptoms for about 2 weeks after exposure.

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There are about 5,000 cases of Legionnaires’ disease reported each year in the United States, according to the CDC. In New York State, the including NYC, the NY DOH says between 200 and 800 cases are diagnosed annually. More legionella cases are usually identified in the summer and early fall, but it can happen any time of year.

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