A resident at the Veterans Home of California – Fresno has tested positive for Legionnaires’ disease and is being treated at the Fresno VA hospital.
The veteran tested positive for the respiratory disease Wednesday, said June Iljana, deputy secretary for communication at the California Department of Veterans Affairs.
No one else at the 300-bed long-term care facility in southwest Fresno has tested positive for the disease, Iljana said. The home opened in October 2013.
Iljana said the patient undergoing treatment at the VA Hospital lives in the residential care portion of the Veterans Home and comes and goes at will. “So he could have been exposed somewhere else,” she said.
Dr. Ken Bird, health officer for Fresno County, confirmed the public health department is investigating a possible healthcare-associated case of Legionnaires’ disease in a long-term care facility that was reported to the department on Thursday morning. He did not name the facility.
We are following all protocols (including providing bottled water to staff, residents, and visitors) to limit the risk for exposure to Legionella if it is present in the facility while the water supply is sterilized.
June Iljana, deputy secretary for communication at the California Department of Veterans Affairs
Residents, staff and visitors at the Veterans Home are getting bottled water. The water supply was being hyper-chlorinated, Iljana said Thursday evening. Water taps were tested but no bacteria were found, she said.
“We are following all protocols (including providing bottled water to staff, residents, and visitors) to limit the risk for exposure to Legionella if it is present in the facility while the water supply is sterilized. We’ve also worked hard to notify residents and family members so they are aware of the situation and understand that we are taking proactive steps regardless of the source of the bacteria,” Iljana said.
Legionnaires’ disease is created when water is contaminated with the Legionella bacteria and becomes a fine spray that is inhaled, or less often, aspirated. The bacteria causes pneumonia that is not contagious.
However, the symptoms of the respiratory disease can be confused with influenza, which is rampant in the community. Iljana said the Veterans Home is not on lockdown but is following the Fresno County Department of Public Health’s recommendation to limit the activity of residents to prevent further exposure and the spread of the flu.
The Veterans Home is the latest institution in Fresno to impose water restrictions out of caution for Legionnaires’ disease. Last year, two northeast Fresno nursing homes – NorthPointe Health Centre and Horizon Health & Subacute Center – were investigated for the disease. The health department reported a Legionnaires’ disease death of a nursing home resident in February. Details about the death were not released because of patient confidentiality laws, but health officials confirmed at that time that staff had been investigating the disease at NorthPointe Health Centre.